Antiviral - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Antiviral Reviews

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December 26, 2014
As if disease and sickness permeated the film itself, Brandon Cronenberg's directorial debut almost seems to radiate both off the screen and onto the viewer, making for an uncomfortably tense but powerful film, even if the cynic in me says that the film loses momentum around the halfway point before the end saves it, and that it could've tapped more into the satirical potential of its down-right brilliant concept with its themes of celebrity, celebrity worship and the loss of identity that results from it.

8/10
December 11, 2014
One of the strangest movies I've ever seen.
December 9, 2014
Creative and clever theme. I just got confused throughout the movie yet I was never bored of it.
½ December 4, 2014
Antiviral (Brandon Cronenberg, 2012)

The whole time I was watching Antiviral, the debut film from Brandon Cronenberg-if the last name sounds familiar, it's because Brandon is the son of revered Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg-I was thoroughly enchanted with it. I kept having to remind myself that, yes, the movie does have some shortcomings, and they kept it from rating higher than it did. But the movie's immense style made me want to gloss those shortcomings over. This is definitely a case of form over function, and in that, early Brandon is on the same track as early David was-and by "early" with David Cronenberg I'm talking about his earliest features, 1969's Stereo and 1970's Crimes of the Future, rather than the "early" stuff everyone's seen (Shivers, Rabid, and The Brood, by the last of which Cronenberg had already, as far as I'm concerned, reached the heights of body-horror greatness he would plumb until 1999's eXistenZ). When it comes right down to it, you're going to want to say you knew him when.

Plot: Syd March (No Country for Old Men's Caleb Landry Jones) works for a near-future company that specializes in a new form of celebrity-worship; they harvest diseases from celebrities, culture them, and infect paying clients with the same strain of the same disease their heroes have. In any case, supermodel Hannah Geist (Dracula Untold's Sarah Gadon) is rumored to have a brand new disease that no one has ever seen before, and Syd's company is desperate to get their hands on some of it. Syd is on the case-not only because he's good at his job, but because, unknown to his company, he is obsessed with Hannah.

Brandon does things the same way Dad does-build the characters well enough so that no matter how weird the situations, things remain somewhat plausible. Where Brandon differs is that it was pretty rare to find a pre-Spider Cronenberg film that seemed in any way realistic. In the days of ubiquitous reality TV and websites devoted to celebrity gossip seeing millions of hits per day, Brandon's near-future vision seems all too realistic. While there's an obvious body-horror aspect to what goes on here, this is more a movie about atmosphere, tension, and paranoia than it is about gross-out special effects, and it benefits tremendously from this. An tiviral is a touch unformed and maybe could've used one more rewrite to tighten up the plot, but it's stylish, creepy, and excels at portions of the filmmaker's craft that many journeymen have never mastered; a very good debut from a promising filmmaker. Can't wait to see what he does next. *** 1/2
½ November 7, 2014
Challenging to watch! But I am a fan of indie films. Only for those who can stomach it.
½ October 6, 2014
Well intentioned but honestly very empty.
½ September 2, 2014
Strange is the only word that describes this movie.....
August 31, 2014
I expected more from the brood of David Cronenberg.
August 24, 2014
a great experience with a wacky-as-hell sci-fi plot. not perfect, but once again, a great experience. it made me feel kind of exhausted and sick, frankly. very stylish. cronenberg-lite, but still with plenty of cronenberg.
½ August 20, 2014
Our obsession with celebrity and the culture in general is something that deserves to be satired and skewered, and Antiviral makes its critiques consistently and with real conviction. Antiviral tells the story of a future where people pay to be injected with the same diseases that celebrities have had, to a achieve a type of biological communion with them. The lead is a worker at this clinic who injects himself with a dose of a celebrities fatal disease. Antiviral is a very interesting piece of work thats created with real conviction and competency. Unfortunately interesting is all it really ever is. The premise and ideas are so outlandish that they fail to ever really work as satire. There's not much in this film that feels like it could actually connect to our real world, and so it doesn't skewer the idea of celebrity as well as it should. Also, the lead character is an absolute mannequin, not because he's badly acted, but because he has no character or personality outside of his actions. The result is a cold, emotionally distant film that doesn't disturb as much as it wants to. If you want a disturbing film about our modern life, you could do much better.
½ August 7, 2014
Our obsession with celebrity and the culture in general is something that deserves to be satired and skewered, and Antiviral makes its critiques consistently and with real conviction. Antiviral tells the story of a future where people pay to be injected with the same diseases that celebrities have had, to a achieve a type of biological communion with them. The lead is a worker at this clinic who injects himself with a dose of a celebrities fatal disease. Antiviral is a very interesting piece of work thats created with real conviction and competency. Unfortunately interesting is all it really ever is. The premise and ideas are so outlandish that they fail to ever really work as satire. There's not much in this film that feels like it could actually connect to our real world, and so it doesn't skewer the idea of celebrity as well as it should. Also, the lead character is an absolute mannequin, not because he's badly acted, but because he has no character or personality outside of his actions. The result is a cold, emotionally distant film that doesn't disturb as much as it wants to. If you want a disturbing film about our modern life, you could do much better.
July 31, 2014
David Cronenberg's son Brandon shows that he is fully capable of carrying on his father's tradition of making smart, socially conscious, psychological thrillers with body horror elements. The fruit does not far from the tree and this is very good since the tree is one of the greatest film makers of all time. This is a film that has just the perfect amount of sci fi and horror without quite going all in on either. It's a balance that works. The whole film has a sickly look to it with hardly any colors and all the characters are extremely weak and pale. The skin tones of all the actors and extras are pale to slight green to a sickly grey. This film isn't Videodrome but I can see Brandon Cronenberg making films that could surpass his father's eventually. This one comes close.
July 24, 2014
In the future, companies make bank by injecting people with the viruses contracted by their most revered super-celebrities, in a twisted effort to become closer to their idols. A tech at one of these companies also smuggles the fresh virii out of his building by injecting himself; trouble arises when the celebrity unexpectedly dies, leaving the staffer little time to learn what went wrong before he suffers the same fate.

Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is that tech, Syd. He's got a pretty sweet gig, selling the virii he harvests to pirates who then alternately inject people with the virus (for a nice price) and grow the equivalent of steaks - really! - with the pathogens for their customers' dining pleasure. How does he do this? Volume! No, actually, what the company does is inject the virus into a machine that essentially copy protects the virus, making the virus proprietary. His company, the Lucas Clinic, is contracted to take blood from dying celeb Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), and Syd injects himself and quickly becomes disoriented, weak, and feverish. When Syd attempts to remove the copy protection by using his own machine, the console is destroyed.

It is a story that shines a bright, infected light on society's devotion to all things celebrity. How far would a superfan go to be a part of a famous person's life? Would they infect themselves with noncontagious herpes? Chew on a regrown kidney? You know something...I think they would, at least the more deranged and sociopathic fans. Such a connection is exponentially stronger than a simple autographed photo. You've not just been recognized by them; you are part of them.

The director is one Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, and the son has the same predilection for the macabre as the father. The obsession with celebrities, all too apparent in real life, is shown to be pretty normal in the film's fictional universe, and yet the horror of playing with the fire of fast-spreading pathogens undercuts this seeming normalcy with an almost Jones' Syd pretends to be just another hustler, but he's really as demented as his customers (and clients). Jones plays Syd perfectly as a shady, somewhat-sullen man of little distinction; also noteworthy are Joe Pingue as Arvid (employee of the celebrity meat market), Wendy Crewson as the head of a rival pathogen company, and Malcolm McDowell, playing yet another doctor, this time with skin grafts from his favorite celebrity.

Antiviral is a horror mystery, with buckets of blood and oodles of intrigue. It's a creepy allegory of man's lust for fame of any kind, viewed through a prism of late-1980s Canadian horror. It's a fine, engrossing film.
July 20, 2014
It makes its heavy-handed point at the start and throughout, but its characters and plot just aren't interesting enough to make it worthwhile.
½ July 10, 2014
Have to disagree with the Critics here, though the idea is kinda original. But it lacks something, its boring but interesting. More like an Obsession for someone, quite disturbing actually

2.5 Stars!
July 8, 2014
a very strange film...
July 5, 2014
Brandon is following in his fathers footsteps with a very fresh, provocative film that is almost believable in our toxic celebrity culture.
July 5, 2014
It was a disturbing and thought provoking premise that stayed with me for days! I saw it again just now and I'm still in awe of the genius of this film!

Caleb Landry Jones gave a performance of a lifetime! It was way beyond creepy, it was truly a frightening spectacle! I look forward to viewing future films featuring this brilliant young actor!
½ June 26, 2014
The script is thin but effectively creepy as it examines contemporary pop culture obsessions while maximizing the queasy close-ups of needles, blood and medical procedures. I say SEE IT!!!
June 2, 2014
A highly disturbing movie, displaying the obsession society has with celebrities; making you think twice about buying that next trashy tabloid magazine.
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