Trailer Tuesday: Antiviral


If you haven't had breakfast or your mid-morning tea by now you may want to delay it for a bit... You're about to lose your appetite. This is because today we're looking at the stomach-churning trailer for sci-fi horror tale Antiviral.

Coming from Brandon Cronenberg, one of writer-director David Cronenberg's brood (ha!), Antiviral looks to be both trippy and terrifying... and is therefore likely to have very limited appeal. The Canadian film is set in a near future where society's obsession with celebrity has mutated into something sick. Pretty much literally. This is a world where people pay to be injected with the harvested (and copy-protected) diseases of their favourite celebrities, "straight from the source". Yes, including STDs. A bit more covertly, knife and fork in hand, you can dine on the muscle tissue of your favourite star, which has been cultivated in a lab.


Freckly Caleb Landry Jones (Banshee from X-Men: First Class) plays Syd March, a morally dubious young man employed by one of the companies that offers its clients celebrity infections. Syd regularly smuggles viruses out of the company's clinic in his own body, to sell on the black market. However, when he injects himself with a mysterious virus from a starlet (Sarah Gadon) who promptly deteriorates and dies (in the most horrible fashion), he finds his own life at stake. Syd  has to find the source of the fatal illness before it's too late for him, all the while dodging other virus collectors and greedy corporates. Malcolm McDowell and Nicholas Campbell also appear.

Needles, blood, body parts... Antiviral is apparently very high on the ick-factor. Cronenberg Junior is clearly unperturbed about differentiating himself from Cronenberg Senior, who, with films like Scanners, The Fly and Crash, was instrumental in establishing a particularly nasty, and frequently controversial, sub-genre called Body Horror since the 1970s. Here, fear and disgust stems from weird mutations of the human body, bodily functions and, ahem, unusual orifice interactions.

Antiviral made its world premiere in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it was described as darkly comic, emotionally detached and disturbing. Word from critics is that the film is far from perfect - particularly in terms of its heavy-handed message about celebrity culture - but it's nonetheless a promising directorial debut.

Antiviral has no official site and no release dates, although the distribution rights have been snapped up by IFC Midnight, which specialises in unnerving indie fare. Expect Antiviral to open in very limited release in North America at the same time it goes direct-to-download on cable TV. South Africans, well, I'd be very surprised if the film ever reaches our shores - given that similar cult horror curiosities like Teeth and The Human Centipede never have (unless they're lurking on a video store back-shelf and I just don't know about it).

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