Antiviral Screen 12 articles



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  • The best-looking parts of Antiviral take place in sterile rooms, as the irony of false intimacy with famous people is stretched to the breaking point. Far less successful is the movie’s grad-school-obvious script, flinging itself at tired comparisons to evil social media and boob-tube universality. The whole movie feels like a case of the sweats, putting you in desperate need of the chicken soup of recognizable human behavior.

  • Antiviral is a one-joke movie—a good joke, yes, but Cronenberg's agenda clouds the clarity that's needed to fully deliver the punchline. The filmmaker wastes no time in asserting his ultimate view, which is that celebrities are offered as sacrificial lambs to a society that parasitically feeds on them.

  • The horror surely should be what obsessed fans are doing to themselves, not what’s happening to stars, who have better equipment for self-preservation even if they don’t use it. Yet the only warmth or concern comes from Hannah, and that doesn’t seem right for a movie so contemptuous of people who worship fame.

  • Might've been a masterpiece with a more diffuse, trippy plot (see e.g. Beyond the Black Rainbow), but Cronenberg tries for techno-thriller and you reach a point where you're trying hard to follow plot twists which aren't so important anyway. Soggy narrative, good ideas (though the main idea, that people would pay to be infected by celebrities - infection = sex, as someone explicitly puts it - is more a smart reductio ad absurdum than a plausible premise). And of course there's that style.

  • Reading Antiviral as a meta-movie may sound like putting a dignified spin on a ripoff, but a late-film conversation about how a virus reproduces (and becomes a new dominant-male form) suggests a self-reflexive reading isn't totally off-base. In any case, as far as entertainment value is concerned, the David Cronenberg "virus" thrives. Despite a few too many last-act rug-pulls, so does the movie.

  • Antiviral’s vision of the soon-to-be corrupt future is derivative, which would be a moot point if it didn’t evoke David Cronenberg films like Crash and Videodrome. But at the same time, Antiviral is more than sufficiently novel to be entertaining, even if Brandon Cronenberg’s script and direction are not as sufficiently assured.

  • Personally, I found the whole vampiric happening that is Antiviral, with its blanched backgrounds and gleefully incoherent plotting (I lost track of the explanatory speeches), rather amusing and not without merit; Antiviral is the kind of comical cinéma de papa I’d readily have watched as a kid in the ’80s after midnight on Civic TV.

  • As his film attests, [Brandon Cronenberg is] clever enough, and possesses enough basic stylistic confidence, to cook up and carry out his own icky body-horror concepts. From anyone with a different last name, such conceptual debts would be laughably indefensible. Here they just seem dull—and often, just laughable. Does it even make sense to denounce genetics as derivative?

  • If we must make comparisons with his dad’s oeuvre, and, y’know, it’s begging for it, then Antiviral continues in the vein of [D. Cronenberg's] 80s period, though it lacks their pulpy forward momentum and energy, and takes a while to get going. What it does have is a well thought through look of gleaming white surfaces and strange technology, a lot of woozy discomfiting camerawork and a fantastic sound design that pulses and throbs menacingly, combining to create a queasy subjective experience.

  • I’m honestly not sure whether it’s ingenious or foolhardy of the younger Cronenberg to go right at his dad’s legacy this way – quite likely it’s both. At any rate, he’s created an interesting decoding problem for viewers, along with an intriguing low-budget chiller that deserves to be seen on its own terms.

  • The biological horror essentially rehashes themes and images that the elder Cronenberg did better... The indictment of celebrity culture, on the other hand, manages to be fresh and unique (no small feat given the topic) and, at the risk of biographical speculation, seems to suggest a personal connection and sympathy with the objectified celebrity class in question.

  • The younger Cronenberg maintains his inherited bloodline while giving the new flesh a different, distorted face. Growing gradually sicker and messier along with its conflicted protagonist, Antiviral is, in all its icily unpleasant ickiness, indeed perfect somehow.

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