Antiviral: Celebrity obsession gone too far


Sasha Kaiser, Staff Writer

In a world full of celebrity obsession, how far would you go to be close to your idol? Would you go so far as injecting yourself with the same viruses or diseases as them, or maybe eating meat made from their regrown cells? The movie Antiviral directed by Brandon Cronenberg, the son of the talented horror director, David Cronenberg, explores this idea in an interesting and bloody way. 

Antiviral follows a young man named Syd March, played by Caleb Landry Jones, who is employed at a company called The Lucas Clinic. This clinic he works for is focused on taking viruses and other bugs from celebrities who have fallen ill in order to inject them into fans. Fans do this as a way to feel more connected with their favorite celebrity. However, the clinic must not pay well, as we see that Syd is injecting himself with the viruses secretly, using his body as an incubator in order to sell the viruses on the black market. He brings the viruses to Arvid, an employee of astral bodies, which is a meat market that grows meat from the cells of celebrities, so you can eat them. Yeah, gross. After a coworker is arrested for smuggling, Syd gains a rare chance to be the one to extract a bug from the famous Hannah Geist, the most popular celebrity at the Lucas Clinic. After taking a blood sample and secretly injecting it into himself, his health begins to rapidly decline. The plot behind Hannah’s illness may be far more sinister than Syd had ever imagined.

One thing that I enjoyed about this movie is how it used body horror, which is a subgenre of horror in which the body begins to go through horrific changes and disintegration, testing the limits as to what the body can go through before being considered no longer human. Body horror can focus on zombification, diseases, mutations, or anything else that would warp the body. Brandon Cronenberg has some big shoes to fill, as his father pretty much perfected the art of body horror in his cult classic The Fly. For this debut picture, in my opinion, Cronenberg has proved himself worthy. Cronenberg made a movie that is dark, disgusting, but also somehow beautiful in terms of aesthetics. Where the story may be lacking in plot, the visuals are able to make up for it. Most gory scenes in the film take place with a fully white background, the blood tainting the pure white backdrop. 

I also really love the character of Syd March, played by the talented Caleb Landry Jones. Jones was perfectly cast as Syd March. He gives a truly haunting and visceral performance in which he really becomes the character. While Jones is the only one who truly stands out to me, all the actors do well, and I don’t have any complaints, but I also don’t really have any praises.

One issue, the movie may have is pacing. Near the middle of the storyline, it starts to feel drawn out; like the movie didn’t know where to go. The ending, however, is good, but viewers might find the middle a little slow-paced. For me, this wasn’t a huge complaint but definitely something that might bother others.

So, is Cronenberg’s feature film a hit or miss? I think it was definitely a hit. Although the pacing may have been a bit of an issue, the movie was really beautiful and had an intriguing concept. It’s a big boom for the start of Cronenberg’s career, and I can’t wait to see what else he has to show us.

I give this movie a 4 out of 5 paws!