Since I was a lad I have been an admirer of David Cronenberg. I loved his twisted tales of body horror and a weird subversive world that seems to co-exist with our own. And I loved that he was always and still is a devoted Canadian. When news hit that David’s son Brandon was not only going into the family business and directing his first feature film, but that the film would also be in the vein of the elder Cronenberg’s early films, it was music to my ears. I actually got to see Antiviral at the Toronto International Film Festival with Brandon in person to introduce the film and I am elated to now have the Blu-ray for the film in my hands.
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at a clinic in the undetermined future. His job is to help harvest live viruses from sick celebrities so the clinic can sell them to crazed fans wanting to have something their beloved stars have had. Syd also sells illegal samples of the viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them out in his own body. When a megastar is killed by a disease that is inside of Syd, he must unravel the mystery of her death before it claims his life as well.
Brandon Cronenberg managed to somehow capture the feel of his father’s early films with Antiviral while still keeping its own identity and originality. The whole film is cold and emotionless and Jones gives an amazing performance in the role of Syd. But it is that dystopian, flesh obsessed future that inevitably reminds us of classic films like Rabid, Videodrome and Scanners. The pace is slower but steady and the level of fascination with the plot just never lets up. It really doesn’t seem that ridiculous in our fame obsessed society that we would one day want to be sick with a virus pulled straight from a celebrity. But I wish it did.
The Blu-ray from Alliance is a stunner. The film is awash in contrasting images from the stark and cold whites of the clinics to the grungy and drab colors of the rest of the world. Detail is amazing especially in the many extreme close ups and clarity is fantastic throughout. This is a real gem in the midst of all the big budget studio movies and fans of David Cronenberg should definitely seek this one out. Brandon Cronenberg is a name I will be watching very closely for in the upcoming films lists.
Available April 16, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.