Film Review: Antiviral (2012)

on Sunday, February 03, 2013
'Antiviral' (UK Release: 1 Feb '13) // Words: Saam Das

Many people follow in their mother or father's footsteps. But in the world of entertainment, such a policy generally runs the risk of forever being in the parental shadow. Brandon Cronenberg's curious debut feature film 'Antiviral' offers enough to persuade onlookers that he may have a reasonable chance at matching his father's incredible legacy.

David Cronenberg has become well-known for his thought-provoking and disturbing films, from the likes of 'The Fly' and 'Naked Lunch' to more recent fare like 'Eastern Promises'. His penchant for body horror has rubbed off on son Brandon, with 'Antiviral' often feeling evocative of 1999's 'eXistenz'.

Set in a world where members of the public not only can be infected by celebrity-hosted diseases but actively choose to, 'Antiviral' is a twisted take on celebrity culture. Syd March (a compelling Caleb Landry Jones) works for The Lucas Clinic, who provide anyone with access to viruses that have infected their favourite celebrities. Syd moonlights as a smuggler, infecting himself to transport the merchandise and sell on for his own profit.

After infecting his own body with a virus that killed mega-celebrity Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), Syd finds himself in a battle against time to find out how she died before he succumbs to the same fate. Considering the innate need for speed, 'Antiviral' comes across as surprisingly slow-paced.

Similarly, the film labours too much on the point of the inescapable cult of celebrity. Yet 'Antiviral' regularly draws the viewer into its intriguing world, and while Brandon Cronenberg may be overly indebted to his father's work, his debut marks him as one to watch.


'Antiviral' premiered in the UK at the 56th BFI London Film Festival. It is now on limited release in UK cinemas.

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