Review Rating: 8
In a futuristic dystopia society where obsession with celebrities is a literal plague on the world, fan-atics can pay to be injected with viruses suffered by their favorite celebrity.
Visually, the movie is slick and stunning and has this kind of determined grip like Gattaca. Everything is sterile white, the extreme closeup shot of the perfect face, and the exhaled breath before the moment of pain blossoms into beauty. The iconic image of main character Syd March, a thermometer dangling from his lips like a cigarette in front of his celebrity obsessions’ face blowup poster, slouched like James Dean, shows that while the image may stay the same, the underlying meanings can be quite different. It helps that Syd, immersed by Caleb Landry Jones, appearance-wise, is a Ginger vampire of the most frightening order. Unfortunately for us, the arresting visuals have to make up for a lot of hesitant pauses in the story itself.
So Syd March works for a high end and highly secure company that manufactures these virii from their sponsored celebrities, whose iconic faces are plastered everywhere. Each salesman is trained in their pitch, but noone does it like Syd March, with his quiet vampire-like obsessive voice eating away at whatever soul is left of the people that actually come here for these services. The clients select their strain, Syd injects them and reassures that they’ll begin showing in a week or so, endures daily inspections for corporate espionage, and goes home to do it anyway. That is, Syd is injecting himself with viruses and is involved with a butcher friend (who sells meat made from celebrity cells, I kid you not) to sell these sickenings elsewhere. But when Syd unknowingly injects himself with a tailor-made virus from his celebrity obsession Hannah Geist, the walls begin caving in and he finds himself the target of other espionagers, those who made the virus, and even his own body. Suddenly Syd finds himself being subject to kidnapping, quiet philosophic rants on the evils of societal celebrity obsession and obsession in general from guest star Malcolm McDowell, and next thing you know Syd is in the same room with the one everyone thinks is dead, his own personal fan-atical infatuation, Hannah Geist. Syd does manage to use his considerable persuasion powers to wrap everything up more or less neatly in the end, taking care of his would-be competitors and enemies, securing himself a new job and a continued existence, and even making sure Hannah continues to live. Sort of. I wouldn’t call that a life, but then this level of obsession over anything or anyone, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around.
It has to be noted that yes, this is the first official outing for the son of renowned movie mogul David Cronenberg, Brandon. And while I can see shades of the strange and lovely ideas in Existenz in Antiviral, Brandon did himself a very fine job for his first film. Nevermind following in his fathers footsteps, the son branched a new path all on his own, and boy is it unique. A rare gem in the Horror world, Antiviral is worth a look if for no other than reason than simply how unique the film – the concept, the story, and the execution – actually is.
Make yourself sick with Antiviral on Amazon Prime Video now!