David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors whose disturbing style of creativity I admire greatly. His remake of The Fly is one of maybe even the greatest remake of all time. It’s a remake that films should strive to be similar when it comes to quality to, something that takes an old idea and goes in a completely different direction. Scanners and Shivers are both memorable horror films and are certainly classics as well as innovators. Perhaps my favorite Cronenberg film is Videodrome, which is a wonderful creative descent into madness.
And now Cronenberg’s son Brandon is going do a similar path as his father, directing a sci-fi body horror film.
After watching Antiviral I have to say that Brandon Cronenberg certainly holds his own and has created something he as well as his father should be incredibly proud of.
Antiviral takes place in a dystopian future where people obsess and idolize to the point that they’re willing to go to a clinic in order to possess copies of viruses and other pathogens from the bodies of celebrities. I believe the first thing we see in the film is someone interested in buying a herpes virus a famous celebrity had. On top of this, there’s also a celebrity meatmarket where meat is grown from the cells of celebrities for consumption.
The idea of this film is so thrilling because this is a dystopian future prediction one could easily see becoming real within our lifetime. If you look at the way some consume celebrity culture, a world where people inject themselves with a flu that swirled through Kim Kardashian’s body doesn’t seem all that unrealistic. I’ve read that Brandon Cronenberg felt the need to make this movie when he was watching a talk show where Sarah Michelle Gellar announced she had a cold and would infect the entire audience and received loud applause.
Side Note: The day after viewing Antiviral, I was in the locker room at my gym where a high schooler was talking about how when he was in the gym he wanted to become Arnold Schwarzenegger and that when he looked in the mirror he saw Arnold Schwarzenegger and stated this made him feel closer to Arnold. He then proceeded to pose in the mirror while listening to quotes from Arnold’s interview segments in Pumping Iron.
Antiviral is a well done dystopian future film with dark satirical commentary regarding celebrity culture. This is also one of the rare films that I find to have a Kubrickian aesthetic that I don’t find condescending. I enjoyed the haunting use of white through the film regarding the interior of the clinic and main character’s apartment which added a depressing feeling of a loss of humanity.
Caleb Landry Jones is the star of this film and someone who I have realized this year is an amazing talent. Besides looking like a young Brad Dourif he is very diverse because I wasn’t aware this is also the guy who played a somewhat young Mickey Rourke type in the already horror classic Get Out. I also enjoyed Joe Pingue in this film who has a familiarity about him and someone who appears most comfortable in front of a camera.
Then of course there’s the legendary Malcolm McDowell who has a somewhat small role but as always delivers in the time that is given to him.
Antiviral is an incredible film that is great dystopian science fiction, body horror and commentary on celebrity culture. The crazy ride is reminiscent of Videodrome and overall an enthralling film with a high level of quality.