Brandon Cronenberg, son of infamous Canadian filmmaker David, has quietly snuck onto the scene with his horror drama Antiviral, a social commentary on our culture’s obsession with celebrities. The expectations may have been unfairly high (being the son of a legend demands some sort of competence), yet he surpasses them by delivering a deep, engaging, and beautifully shot art house horror film.
Antiviral, acquired by IFC Midnight earlier this year, takes place in the unknown future where celebrity worship has reached epic levels. Besides being able to eat harvested meat from the cells of celebs, bioengineering has evolved into developing a way to infect fans with an infection carried by their favorite icon (yes, you could carry Paris Hilton’s herpes!). Caleb Landry Jones is black marketing the infections he sells, and ends up in the middle of a conspiracy to kill THE superstar of the times by injecting himself with her virus.
While the commentary is something most of us can immediately connect with, the story does lose some steam, and ultimately wears out is welcome. Once the film has clarity, instead of pacing forward, it slows to a dead stop. Jones’ outstanding performance, Karim Hussain’s stunning cinematography, and Cronenberg’s artful eye are what keep the film interesting. Antiviral is simply a stunning piece if Canadian filmmaking that puts all the local talent on display.
While I feel some viewers may find the experience tedious or exhausting, it does carry quite a few twists and turns, not to mention the much-desired “Cronenberg” imagery that will delight the hardcore horror nuts. Antiviral is quite an entrance by the young filmmaker who has one hell of a bright future.