Antiviral (2012) Directed by Brandon Cronenberg. With Caleb Landry Jones and Sarah Gordon.
Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, Antiviral aims to get under your skin by picking up the story of a young man working for a company that trades in collecting the infectious diseases of celebrities, and administering them to their obsessed fans.
So far, so weird. And so it goes. Sadly, what on paper has the ring of a meaty satire on the cult of celebrity, plays more as an endurance test as the slow and overly self important tale unfolds. Indeed, the 108min running time seems 105mins too long, and it isn’t hard to imagine a punchier 3min student film getting the message over more effectively.
In the central role, a monotone Caleb Landry Jones spends the majority of the film looking as bored as we are, while regularly vomiting blood and looking generally unwell. It’s not that it’s a bad performance, there’s just nothing to grab on to, which accentuates the driftwood feel of the piece.
It’s fair to say there’s the germ of a good idea here, but the execution is so plodding that the long, drawn out slow motion shots in which very little happens, are a more wince inducing experience than the actual body horror itself.
Cronenberg Jr shows his skill with a camera by composing some arty shots of empty swimming pools and sterile working environments, but crucially, the narrative fails to gather any kind of real momentum thus creating a pretentious feeling film that leaves us sadly disengaged. 1.5/5