2012 / Director. Brandon Cronenberg.
The first auteur filmmaker I became obsessed with was David Cronenberg. At 15 years of age I consumed his biography and immersed myself in as many of his films as possible. His contribution to the horror genre is monumental and as much as I love his later films I have been aching for him to return the more aesthetically organic and biologically horrific type of storytelling. ANTIVIRAL is about as close as it's going to get. Directed by his son, Brandon, this graphic and distasteful independent film boasts all of the typical hallmarks of David Cronenberg's earlier work. The apple certainly doesn't fall far from the tree with the distinction between the two filmmakers being incredibly blurred. If I had gone into Antiviral unaware, I would have pinned it for David's work. The film is set in an alternative world... a dystopian society obsessed with celebrity. Corporations trade in "celebrity infections". That is to say that they harvest viruses from famous people and charge big dollars to infect everyday people. As the film unfolds, so too does the extent of the obsessions and the lengths at which people will go to feel a connection with celebs. Clearly a social commentary of the world we live in at the moment, it is an unsavoury subject matter and the film is quite explicit in its depiction of disease and consumption. Like his father's earlier films, Brandon presents a sterilised and surgical environment with the contrast of flesh and blood. I found myself transfixed on the visual aspects. It's a good looking movie and the set design is well conceived, as are the VFX. My problem was that Antivirus overstays it's welcome. It meanders for too long and would have benefited from a shorter running time. Nevertheless it's an impressive debut feature, albeit conceptually derivative to David's work (which I enjoyed). I will be keen to see what Brandon brings us next.