Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg (The Dead Zone, The Fly), made his debut at the Cannes Film Festival with Antiviral. Now, IFC Midnight has obtained the rights to distribute the film in the United States. Cronenberg, the younger, also wrote the screenplay, and the film stars Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon, Douglas Smith, and the ever-terrifying talent that is Malcolm McDowell.
The plot is, well…disturbing. Yes, that is a word tossed around the same way “adrenaline-pumping” or “edge of your seat” is for action films, but I am not using this adjective lightly. Jones plays Syd March, who works at a clinic that offers injections of virus cultures collected from ill celebrities to their obsessively adoring fans, for a price. The practice is described as a sort of “communion”.
Let me stop right here for just one moment.
I am the sort of person who, when walking past the tabloid magazines in the supermarket, weeps tears of blood for the human species. I have to cling to the hope that most people do not care this much about celebrities and their meaningless lives, but I know that there are many who would not have second thoughts about injecting themselves with whatever STD the cast of Jersey Shore is currently sharing.
This would be creepy enough, but, as they say, the plot thickens, much like blood left clotting in a vacutainer.
Syd March sells some viral material on the side, by smuggling the diseases out of the clinic inside his own body. Eventually, he becomes infected with a virus that kills its initial celebrity host. Suddenly, March has to race to find a cure for himself while being hunted by obsessed fans and other such accumulators.
If anything, this promises to be a sharp slap in the face to celebrities and those who worship them. Describing the act as “communion” also seems to have deeper metaphor. In our modern, lazy, media-fueled society, do we truly begin to see these horrible human beings as gods? It was bad enough when we viewed our ancient and medieval leaders with some sort of divine awe. What happens when we have this skewed perspective of people with less intelligence and more influence?
Cthulhu, help us all.