In a blackly satirical near future, a thriving industry sells celebrity illnesses to their obsessed fans. Employee Syd March's attempts to exploit the system backfire when they involve him in a potentially deadly mystery.
Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Biological communion - for a price. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate. Written by
Almost half of the content of the film was shot during pre-production. This includes the vast amount of playback footage and the many stills needed to decorate the sets and to be used with props. See more »
Before Syd puts the virus into Edward Porris's lip, we see the plunger of the syringe has been pulled back a bit, as it would be had Syd filled it with the virus. However, in the close up of the needle piercing the skin, you can see the plunger is all the way down, so when it was stuck into Edward's lip there was nothing in it. See more »
In the future, companies make bank by injecting people with the viruses contracted by their most revered super-celebrities, in a twisted effort to become closer to their idols. A tech at one of these companies also smuggles the fresh virii out of his building by injecting himself; trouble arises when the celebrity unexpectedly dies, leaving the staffer little time to learn what went wrong before he suffers the same fate.
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is that tech, Syd. He's got a pretty sweet gig, selling the virii he harvests to pirates who then alternately inject people with the virus (for a nice price) and grow the equivalent of steaks - really! - with the pathogens for their customers' dining pleasure. How does he do this? Volume! No, actually, what the company does is inject the virus into a machine that essentially copy protects the virus, making the virus proprietary. His company, the Lucas Clinic, is contracted to take blood from dying celeb Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), and Syd injects himself and quickly becomes disoriented, weak, and feverish. When Syd attempts to remove the copy protection by using his own machine, the console is destroyed.
It is a story that shines a bright, infected light on society's devotion to all things celebrity. How far would a superfan go to be a part of a famous person's life? Would they infect themselves with noncontagious herpes? Chew on a regrown kidney? You know something...I think they would, at least the more deranged and sociopathic fans. Such a connection is exponentially stronger than a simple autographed photo. You've not just been recognized by them; you are part of them.
The director is one Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, and the son has the same predilection for the macabre as the father. The obsession with celebrities, all too apparent in real life, is shown to be pretty normal in the film's fictional universe, and yet the horror of playing with the fire of fast-spreading pathogens undercuts this seeming normalcy with an almost Jones' Syd pretends to be just another hustler, but he's really as demented as his customers (and clients). Jones plays Syd perfectly as a shady, somewhat-sullen man of little distinction; also noteworthy are Joe Pingue as Arvid (employee of the celebrity meat market), Wendy Crewson as the head of a rival pathogen company, and Malcolm McDowell, playing yet another doctor, this time with skin grafts from his favorite celebrity.
Antiviral is a horror mystery, with buckets of blood and oodles of intrigue. It's a creepy allegory of man's lust for fame of any kind, viewed through a prism of late-1980s Canadian horror. It's a fine, engrossing film.
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