Longtime horror film fans definitely know David Cronenberg and his brand of strange body horror ranging from bizarre to completely undecipherable. But, did you know that he has a son, Brandon, and he too is now a horror film producer. Thanks to a co-worker, who did not make the Cronenberg connection when mentioning this film, Antiviral, now I know and I’ll keep watch over his future efforts.
Antiviral is set in a dystopian future where fan obsession has reached truly unsettling extremes. When celebrities take ill, ‘virus-brokers’ harvest the illness and resell it to fans who want to make a ‘biological connection’. As happens with profitable businesses, piracy and black market deals enter the picture and that’s where the more disturbing plot twists enter.
The good news is the film is extremely stylish; cinematography is fresh with heavy use of blur and zoom to reveal plot details with timing that surprises. The soundtrack sounds a little borrowed from Papa Cronenberg’s earlier works, industrialized to appeal to modern audiences. The acting is good considering they were going for a dystopian environment. The rather heavy-handed social commentary about spiraling celebrity status is delivered as a cautionary tale, not for us, rather for the celebrities.
The bad news is the character development is poor. So poor that even with the interesting plot twists, stylish delivery and attention grabbing camera work, I just didn’t give a crap what happened to the characters.
For Baby Cronenberg’s first effort, not bad. If you’re a long time David Cronenberg fan definitely reserve the 90 minutes to see what is Brandon’s talent in the rough. For all others, you can safely fast forward to his next film.