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Classic Review Revamp: Antiviral (2012)



In a blackly satirical near future, a thriving industry sells celebrity illnesses to their obsessed fans. Employee Syd March's attempts to exploit the system backfire when they involve him in a potentially deadly mystery.




Review

There were high hopes for 2012's Antiviral. It was an interesting concept, and it seemed that director, Brandon Cronenburg (Feature Debut) may have been following in his father's footsteps.

Set in the near future, people have the ability to purchase and contract their favorite celebrities diseases. Syd, a worker for one of the clinics practicing this is bucking the system. Taking risks to sell the product on the black market, and eventually infecting himself with an incurable disease, leading to a bizarre murder mystery. It sounds good satire on today's infatuation with celebrity. It sounds Cronenburgian.

Sadly Cronenburg's direction hits hard on the weird, with not enough time spent on the narrative. A hard road to walk, but one Cronenburg Snr. has managed deftly in the past. That said, the cinematography is markedly clever - running a fine line between the present day, and what will likely become a dystopian Blade Runner-esque future.




Cast largely with younger actors, Syd's role is undertaken by Caleb Landry Jones (The Last Exorcism) who does an okay job. He is a talented actor, but has to be cast right, and this early in his career needed some solid direction to nudge him along, as proven by his performance in Jordan Peele's Get Out. Star power is provided by Malcolm McDowell (Halloween), who let's face it, at this point in his career is playing himself in every role - but is always good. The delivery of the bizarre materials is done pretty well overall. The special effects are good. I think conceptually it is a solid movie.

It simply lies at the feet of Cronenburg that the pacing is jarring, and the surreal story line is laid on so thick that in places the film is hard to follow. The ending is just not satisfying. It's now seven years on, and he is yet to release a further feature.

I hope he has been fine tuning his art as he is now working on a new release, Possessor.

This is sadly not for any mainstream audience, and even for myself, a fan of horror, body horror, and bizzaro, this wasn't for me. It never comes across as intentional story telling, just an experimental journey for the director.








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