If writer-director Brandon Cronenberg wanted to avoid being compared to his famous father and have his work stand on its own merits, he couldn't have chosen a worse vehicle than Antiviral, a film that can only be described as "Cronenbergian," and not "Brandon Cronenbergian," either. His father's influence looms large, from the film’s grotesque body horror to its constant feeling of terrified claustrophobia to its surrealist sets. Antiviral centers on Syd (Caleb Landry Jones), a technician in a celebrity-obsessed dystopia who specializes in infecting fans with their idols' diseases. Want the same strand of herpes your favorite actress carried? He'll inject it in you, for a price. He also traffics in synthetic muscle cells of the rich and famous, which are processed into meats and served up for nominal fees. Naturally, this doesn't end well for anyone involved in the infection-for-fun world. But even as the film devolves into a dizzying and ultimately blasé affair, Cronenberg executes his deranged story with an intense visual panache that's all his own (though not for the squeamish). Obviously indebted to his father, it’s still an insanely promising start for a director with a huge shadow to escape, and a compelling look at the potential of a future auteur in his infancy.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
- Critic's Score: B-
- Watch the trailer