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Antiviral

Antiviral

Format: Cinema

Release date: 8 February 2013

Venues: Key cities

Distributor: Momentum Pictures

Format: DVD + digital download

Release date: 11 February 2013

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Writer: Brandon Cronenberg

Cast: Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Malcolm McDowell

Canada/USA 2012

108 mins

Two of our writers have previously reviewed Brandon Cronenberg’s medical chiller, which is out in UK cinemas today, and they had very different opinions of it. The film is released on DVD and digital download on 11 February.

Mark Stafford liked it:

In a world where the hysteria surrounding celebrities has spawned a number of spin-off industries well beyond the racks of gossip magazines, you can buy pounds of lab-grown celebrity meat, celebrity skin grafts, and, in the clinic where Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works, get yourself infected with genetically modified exclusive celebrity diseases. Syd’s got a little dirty business on the side, infecting himself with the valuable maladies and passing them on to his underground contacts. Unfortunately, one of the new infections proves to be far more virulent than he expects, and he finds himself a seriously sick and seriously desirable man, with criminal and legitimate interests vying to exploit the strange new superstar virus coursing through his veins.

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 the 80s Scanners/Brood/Videodrome 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. Cronenjunior sets out to make you unwell watching his film, and has succeeded admirably: it builds into something truly troubling.

Greg Klymkiw did not:

Antiviral was one of the worst horror films I’d seen in quite a while. This moronically pretentious poppycock about a world where celebrity diseases are marketed to a public that can afford them plods along dourly with no evidence of panache, humour or filmmaking talent.

The picture has excellent production value (a no-brainer given that producer Niv ‘The Red Violin’ Fichman is Master of Canadian Eye Candy – nobody makes better-looking movies in the Dominion than Mr Fichman) and features a couple of amusing supporting performances from Malcolm McDowell and Nicholas Campbell, neither of whom seems at all embarrassed to be in this landfill site of a movie. The son of Canada’s True Master Filmmaker neglected to take a shot of his dad’s talent disease. Antiviral is the result.

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