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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Antiviral Review

IFC Films
Antiviral Review
2013, 103 minutes
Not Rated

Antiviral marks the debut of director Brandon Cronenberg (son of one of my favorite directors, David Cronenberg), and all I can say is I can't wait for his next film.  Antiviral tells the story of Syd March (a career-making performance by Caleb Landry Jones), a young man who works for a company who takes viruses from celebrities and gives them to obsessed fans so that the fans can feel connected to the celebrities.  March also injects himself with these viruses so that he can sell them on the black market.  However, one day he injects himself with a celebrity's virus which ends up killing the celebrity, leaving Syd to figure out the mystery behind the virus.

Caleb Landry Jones is an actor who needs to be taken seriously and given more starring roles.  Jones always looks sick and frail like his character and completely immerses himself in the character to make the performance as realistic as possible.  He is quiet, but intense.

The cinematography by Karim Hussain is crisp and each shot is exquisitely framed.  The film has a distinct lack of color, giving it a cold, lifeless, almost sterile quality.  Cronenberg keeps control over the film, as the pacing is very tight and the story keeps moving forward, throwing in one twist or icky scene after another.

Antiviral is a satire on modern celebrity obsession and largely succeeds.  While the satire is not biting or detailed, it is still very clever.  In the film, one of the new fads is growing celebrity's flesh for people to eat so that they could be closer to their favorite celebrity.  In today's celebrity-obsessed culture, people will do anything to be like a celebrity.  Oddly enough, Antiviral is an interesting companion to Matteo Garrone's Reality, a satire about a man desperate to become a celebrity.  With his demented imagination, Cronenberg dreams up some other very twisted ways for people to be closer to celebrities, but to tell you would be ruining much of the film's fun.

Overall, Antiviral is a fun, weird, and inventive sci-fi thriller in the vain of Brandon Cronenberg's dad and obvious influence, David Cronenberg.  I was very entertained by this film.  Even when the semi-clich├ęd story structure becomes too conventional at points, Cronenberg's imagination and obvious love of the material shine through.  If you are a fan of David's earlier body horror films like Videodrome and The Fly (both highly revolting, but brilliant films), Antiviral will be right up your alley and will introduce you to a highly talented new filmmaker.

-Joshua Handler

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