Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones, Lisa Berry, Sarah Gadon, and Malcolm McDowell
After becoming infected with the virus that killed superstar Hannah Geist, Syd March must unravel the mystery surrounding her death to save his own life.
America is definitely guilty of celebrity obsession. It doesn’t matter if you’re talented, just famous. We take an unhealthy interest in rock stars, movie stars, professional athletes, and even reality television “stars”. People stalk celebrities to the point of arrests and restraining orders, even death. Celebrity is big business. Antiviral takes this behavior to the limit, peering into a future of branded celebrity viruses. The celebrity-specific infections are for sale to the public, offering nobodies the chance to meld with the stars. Antiviral is the feature-length directorial debut of Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg, and his skill with heady science-fiction-horror doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Syd Marsh (Caleb Landry Jones) works for a company that offers celebrity diseases to the public. Celebrity worship is at a fever pitch, driving consumers to escape into the life of their idols with a simple injection. Syd encodes the viruses with a copyright, removing the infectious nature and insuring their product can’t be pirated by a second user. Syd works with a high-demand product and there’s money to be made on the side if you lack the scruples. The allure of the product is impossible for some to ignore, and compromised users are pulled into dark places.
Caleb Landry Jones drives this film in a rather magnetic fashion. He carries himself with a clinical demeanor that comes off upsetting. (Antiviral is further proof that gingers have no soul) Syd’s pale skin and widely freckled body provides a great contrast to Cronenberg’s sterile atmosphere and clinical flow. Trapped by his own addictions, Syd is forced to fight for answers or die at the hands of a sinister plot. I’m sure Brandon is flattered to be compared to his father, but also ready to break away and travel his own path. If you like visually appealing sci-fi and horror, I think this is practically a guarantee. If it helps push you towards your television, Antiviral is available for streaming on Netflix.