Brandon Cronenberg, the son of Canada’s most famous filmmaker David Cronenberg made his feature-film debut with Antiviral and is not only continuing with the famous business, but also follows his father into a very specific horror genre.
Antiviral is set in a near future where celebrity obsession has reached such a height that people pay to be infected with their favourite celebrities’ viruses, whether it is the flu or herpes. Caleb Landry Jones plays Syd Marsh who works for one of the largest companies specializing in this service collecting and administering these viruses. Besides being on the corporate payrol,l Marsh has a growing side business smuggling out these viruses in his own body and selling them on the black market. When he is sent to collect a sample from the new hottest celebrity (Sarah Gadon) he seizes the opportunity to scoop the competition and injects himself with her virus but (predictably) ends up getting more than he expected.
The horror genre at its best is perfect representation of the current cultural climate of our society and nothing could be more current than celebrity obsession. During the past week of the film festival in Toronto there were plenty of signs that celebrity worship will with us for a very long time.
The film itself, beyond just a very timely and clever premise is a wonderful work of cinema and features an especially amazing performance from Caleb Landry Jones who is perhaps best known for his role in X-Men First Class as Banshee and can also be seen at the this year’s festival in the Neil Jordan film Byzantium. Caleb is physically interesting and is able to show strength of will and character while appearing physically frail on screen. The length and pacing of the film does betray the performances as it runs a little long, by delaying and stretching out the ending to the point when the film comes to its conclusion you are not as emotionally invested as you were near the start. All that being said, this is a wonderful feature film debut and Brandon Cronenberg has certainly inherited his father’s talents and will carve out his own identity over time.
Directred and Written by: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon and Malcolm McDowell
Written by Jason Poynton
Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.