Shocking Saturday: Antiviral

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.

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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:

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Shocking Saturday: A Clockwork Orange

For this weeks Shocking Saturday I re-watched a film which is a classic in cinema, although not actually a horror film but a psychological thriller, it is rather shocking nonetheless. I am talking about the 1971 Stanley Kubrick directed ‘A Clockwork Orange’, which first caused controversy on its release, due to the main character being obsessed with ultra-violence, rape and Beethoven; but is now seen as a work of art.

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Being one of my favourite films, I was bound to review it at some point. I’m not even sure where to begin, for fans of the 1962 ‘Anthony Burgess’ novel of the same name, I’m sure you would agree that ‘Kubrick’s’ film does the book justice. Even though the film ends a chapter short of the book.

As soon as that first shot comes in and ‘Alex DeLarge’s’ charming British voice begins to narrate, the audience are in for a ride, what is to come will have you questioning what it was that you just saw. We are taken through a typical night for ‘Alex’ and his ‘Droogs’, as they beat up a drunk, homeless man and then proceed to sexually assault a woman in her home. After his gang members decide that they don’t want him as their leader any more, they create a plan to have him arrested and sent to prison. Whilst inside ‘Alex’ does his best to suck-up to the prison priest, in order for him to sign him up for a cure which is supposed to get you out of jail early and stop your violent urges – the ‘Ludovico Technique’. But once undergoing the treatment, he realises that it is nothing like he imagined, and the outside world has also changed beyond his belief.

As we are taken through the life of ‘Alex’ we see him commit violent acts with the help of his gang, mainly because it is a different way of life than following what the rest of the public do, in other words he doesn’t want to become a clockwork orange.

Malcolm McDowell plays the role of the ruthless ‘Alex’ flawlessly, starting with making the audience despise him due to that acts which he is committing, coming across as a, although educated, psychopathic teen, and we cower as we see him lure others into his seduction. However, yes he is a killer and who most would call the antagonist, but you just can’t help but notice his charismatic charm, and throughout the second half of the film, the audience are forced in to sympathising with the boy, even though it is clear that he is getting his comeuppance.

It is every aspect which is put in that makes this film excellent, from the imaginative props and setting of the ‘Moloko’ bar; where ‘Alex’ and his ‘Droogs’ hang out before going out for a night of mayhem. To ‘Alex’ being apparently cured in the ‘Ludovico centre’. Everywhere the film is taken, your eyes and ears never get bored, that could possibly be because the dialogue is in an English-influenced Russian slang called ‘Nadsat’, so you are constantly trying to work out what the characters are saying, however you do begin to pick it up as the film goes on.

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One of the best scenes, and the most famous, is that of when ‘Alex’ is strapped to a chair and forced to watch violent videos on a screen during the ‘Ludovico Technique’, even if he wants to close his eyes he can’t due to some clamps which have been applied. So he is forced to sit there and witness the scenes of fighting, rape and concentration camps; all to the score of Beethoven’s – or as he refers to him as ‘Ludwig Van’ – 9th symphony in the background. As we watch and see the effects which the videos are having on him, it is mirrored on to us as we are immersed in to his mind.

The visionary mind of Stanley Kubrick has once again given birth to an incredible psychological film. He has so many great directing credits under his belt – ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Spartacus’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ – but for me ‘A Clockwork Orange’ will always be his best.

A truly great film which I believe should be on everyone’s top films list.

Tag Line: Being The Adventures Of A Young Man Whose Principal Interests Are Rape, Ultra-Violence and Beethoven.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: