Antiviral (image 1)

Growing gradually sicker and messier along with its conflicted protagonist, Antiviral is, in all its icily unpleasant ickiness, indeed perfect somehow.

Anton Bitel, Sight & Sound

Screened as part of Autumn Events 2013

Antiviral 2012

Directed by Brandon Cronenberg

The feature debut of writer/director Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, is a clammily forensic foray into satirically loaded body horror, a chilly projection into a near-future metropolis where the viral infections of the stars are copyright-protected and sold to fans. Celebrity cold sores, anyone?

112 minutes

Screenplay

Brandon Cronenberg

Producer

Niv Fichman

Photography

Karim Hussain

Editor

Matthew Hannam

Music

E.C. Woodley

With

Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Douglas Smith, Joe Pingue, Nicholas Campbell, Sheila McCarthy, Wendy Crewson, Nenna Abuwa, Lisa Berry, Malcolm McDowell

Festivals

Cannes, Toronto, London 2012

The feature debut of writer/director Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, is a clammily forensic foray into satirically loaded body horror, a chilly projection into a near-future metropolis where the viral infections of the stars are copyright-protected and sold to fans. Celebrity cold sores, anyone?  Salesman Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is shooting up star viruses on the job in order to smuggle the goods off the premises, unlock the encryptions and sell the sought-after diseases on the black market. Soon he’s being watched very closely in an underworld where a parallel trade in bootleg star tissue challenges the legal definition of cannibalism. Not so much courting the inevitable comparisons to the cinéma de papa, as insisting on them, Antiviral was surely the most critically handicapped debut of the year. Maybe it was the family brand that secured Cronenberg an unduly plum spot at Cannes, but should we be mad at a young filmmaker for kicking off with less than a masterpiece when it’s as smart and nasty and thoroughly imagined as Antiviral? — Bill Gosden

“David Cronenberg may have an unlikely competitor in the field of making your skin crawl, if the excellent debut feature by his son Brandon is anything to go by. Antiviral, an eye-widening delve into conceptual science fiction, has the gruesome verve of Cronenberg Sr.’s early work, and morbidity to match. It won’t do to shrug it off as a jejune clone of dad’s low-budget body-horror pictures (Shivers, Rabid), because there’s real muscle in its ideas, a potent kind of satirical despair, and a level of craft you rarely expect from a first-timer… The movie is more thinkpiece than thriller, and the plot sometimes coasts a little, but it has a horrific Orwellian suggestiveness and the coldly arresting style to back it up. Like all the best science fiction, it speaks directly to our age and feels like a hideous warning.” — Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph