I’m going to warn you now that this review requires some back story. This is the debut film from Brandon Cronenberg. Does the last name seem very familiar? It should because his dad is David Cronenberg, master of body horror movies. Body horror plays on the fears of infection or mutations that can happen to us. While I commend his son for wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, I wish his first effort was stronger and not as mindbogglingly weird.
Antiviral takes an unflinching look at celebrity obsessed culture. We follow Syd March, a salesman for the Lucas Clinic. The clinic specializes in selling diseased or infection-ridden samples from celebrities. Anything from herpes, the flu and even HIV can be purchased by people that are desperate to have a physical connection with their favorite actor or actress. But, Syd also uses his body as an incubator to sell the same samples on the black market. You can guess where this is going. He obtains a sample of a cold from the actress du jour Hannah Geist, but it’s not just any cold. He basically injects a new strain of bubonic plague into his body. The movie is mainly spent watching him slowly die from hallucinations, internal hemorrhaging, and brain melting fever.
Ultimately he lives…by making a deal with the Lucas Clinic since they created the virus that killed Hannah Geist. Why would they want to kill their cash cow? To make an even bigger profit from her death. What is the point of all this? The best guess I have is that this is the direction our society is heading in if we encourage such unhealthy obsessions with the rich and famous. Or it could be the writer/director just wanted to fill almost 2 hours of screen time with blood and steaks made from human skin cells. I wish I was making the human steaks part up.
This just wasn’t very good. The plot is very interesting, but once again the actual delivery is what kills it. Plus Syd is a dishonest, unlikable, whiny brat. Also he’s creepy. The very last scene we see him cut into the regenerated skin of Hannah, and suck out the blood. I was willing to give this a pass until I saw that. So for a too long run time, annoying characters, and visuals that made my head hurt, this gets a 1 out of 5. It doesn’t always pay to focus on visuals instead of plot. If you want to see body horror done right, look for Videodrome or The Thing.