Antiviral enjoys its own premise
Starring Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, and Malcolm McDowell. Rating not available.
In many respects, this looks more like a dramatized doctoral dissertation on the works of David Cronenberg than it does a movie in its own right. For better or for worse, Brandon Cronenberg obviously isn’t worried that viewers will think that this particular acorn didn’t fall far enough away from the tree. Both formally and thematically, Antiviral is indebted to Daddy’s oeuvre, from Stereo to eXistenZ, with a passing nod to Cosmopolis.
To augment our already overwhelming sense of overfamiliarity, the plot—in the near future, people are willing to spend fortunes in order to inject themselves with the viruses infecting their favourite stars—sounds like it comes from a novel that J. G. Ballard (Crash) never quite wrote. And then there’s the retro lighting, which looks like it comes from George Lucas’s THX 1138, and the production design, which seems deeply indebted to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s cosmic bedroom .
So, no: originality is not Antiviral’s strong suit.
On the other hand, we now live in an age where old fantasy flicks are getting remade all the time. At least this one enjoys its own premise, even if the surrounding fabric is stitched together like the skin on Frankenstein’s monster.
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works for a corporation that sells the diseases of the rich and famous to celebrity wannabes. He himself has deliberately infected himself with the malady that is in the process of taking the life of Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), the clinic’s biggest “commodity”. Soon he becomes a person of interest in an underworld where bootleg star tissue challenges the legal definition of cannibalism, while mad scientists and entrepreneurs of all sorts snuffle after a slice of the action.
Fortunately for us, the cast looks right, the dialogue is not embarrassing, and the locations well chosen. In spite of everything, Antiviral is still a better-than-average film.
Watch the trailer for Antiviral.