Antiviral really opens your eyes to show you how far people will go to be close to their beloved celebrities, with a secondary story happening throughout.
The Brandon Cronenberg – son of David Cronenberg – directed film takes us on a journey from the point of view of protagonist Syd March, who works at an organization called Lucas Clinic; which harvests diseases from famous celebrities and sells them to desperate members of the public. The company sends people out to celebrities and obtain their infection, then inject their customers who pay a handsome price for it. March has stolen a machine from his work which changes the structure of the diseases and makes them not infectious to other people, only the voluntary host; also he has been injecting himself with some of the illnesses at work to harvest them and sell them to a third-party. His company’s most popular contributor, Hannah Geist, falls ill from an unknown disease and is then pronounced dead. But March, with the help of Dr. Abendroth played by the talented Malcolm McDowell, uncovers that her death may have been someone else’s fault. Syd is presented with the opportunity to infect himself with this disease before he realises it’s fatal, which means he must track down the culprit to cure himself and save his own life.
Although the official plot is that March is stealing diseases from his work and has now been infected with a killer infection, Antiviral also paints a picture of a future where people’s celebrity lusts have become ridiculous, and they will do anything to make themselves feel closer; whether that’s injecting the herpes virus in to their face or even buying meat to eat which has been grown from the cells of the celebrities. Like with the 2006 film Children Of Men, Antiviral came across to me as a future which could become all too real very soon.
Caleb Landry Jones gives an amazing performance as the violently diseased Syd March, and keeps the audience grasped as both you and him attempt to figure out what is going on with Hannah Geist’s death. Just like I said when reviewing Bug with Michael Shannon, here is another actor who I have witnessed casually go up in terms of roles in films throughout the years. First seeing Jones in a small role in the rather terrible The Last Exorcism, I then saw his on-screen appearance grow in 2011s X-Men: First Class as Banshee. But here he flourishes in his leading role which, along with the background story, is what makes this film so great.
Another effective aspect the film uses is a primarily white colour palette throughout, possibly to showcase its clinical story line. It could also be to accentuate the red of the blood which comes from March as he falls deeper into the illness. This is something which is portrayed expertly by Caleb Landry Jones, he shows the spiralling downfall his of health as he begins bleeds from his mouth and starts to drift in and out of consciousness; he definitely made me never want to catch whatever it was he had.
Not exactly a horror film, but quite shocking nonetheless.
Tag Line: What If You Could Feel Like They Do…
Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆