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1999 was a big year – the oncoming of a new millennium, the fear that the y2k glitch would cause the apocalypse, and the year David Cronenberg made his last fucked up movie – surely that last point is at least a SIGN of an oncoming apocalypse…
Those in the know of the wonderful world of fucked up cinema should BETTER know Cronenberg’s name – he is a cornerstone of the genre – from Scanners to Videodrome to theThe Fly (where do you think BrundleFly comes from?) to Naked Lunch – the man is a pioneer. Then…after 1999 something happened…the parasite that was latched onto his brain that was feeding him those ‘oh-so-creative’ juices (Tupac claimed it was God, but we all know it is a parasite) died. He went on to make completely straight (though there was a lot of Viggo Mortensen’s cock in them..) movies like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises leaving us OG Cronenberg fans wondering why our savior had abandoned us.
But just like God, he had a son, and that son has become our new savior…
Brandon’s film Antiviral is a haunting look at a society obsessed with celebrities – so much so that those celebrities actually sell their cells and blood so that their die-hard fans can purchase their diseases – from the common cold they just had to their personal strand of herpes – to actually growing skin-grafts farmed from their cells to be worn like tattoos. Fucked up right? Look at our current obsession with celebrities – people are spending large amounts of money to buy certain items of trash thrown out by celebrities, and a few strands of Charles Manson’s hair are on sale for multiple thousands of dollars WITH bidders – is this really that far of a stretch?
Our main character – one Syd March – played flawlessly by Caleb Landry Jones – yes, Louis from Breaking Bad, and Banshee from X-Men – works for one of the companies (The Lucas Clinic) that sells these celebrity diseases and whatnot. He also makes some scratch on the side by injecting himself with these diseases and selling them to piracy groups – like you do. He comes across a HUGE opportunity with a major celebrity sickness, and injects her blood into his arm….with unforeseen and dire consequences…
One can definitely tell this is a Cronenberg film – and if it wasn’t, it would definitely be described as ‘Cronenbergian’ for sure. David’s motif of transformation and metamorphosis reigns supreme here as the disease changes Syd throughout the movie – but where Papa Cronenberg’s obsession seemed to lie in man and machine fusing – be it Brundlefly crawling out of the pods – completely fused with the machinery in The Fly, or eXistenZ’s pods that plugged directly into a person – somewhere Shinya Tsukamoto smiles. In Antiviral, however, the metamorphosis is internal, biological – something INSIDE of Syd is changing – Brandon focuses more on the medical aspect – cells, viruses, resistance, and evolution – something tells me he would be a FANTASTIC candidate for an American Parasite EVE movie.
The film has a VERY sterile look to it – almost everything is white – every piece of furniture, every wallpaper, and every set – tables, cabinets, everything. This adds to the whole unseen element of any biological-centered movie and how sterilization can be conveyed – either more obviously with high-powered air jets and vacuum sealed doors, or subtly with colors and tones – the theme of sterilization reigns supreme in this film – though you will still want to take a shower after it.
The film is an obvious satire on our celebrity-obsessed culture. Throughout the film we catch glances of a hyper-sexualized TMZ-type show, and excessive celebrity-worship in the form of an odd form of cannibalism – a meat-market that sells celebrity steaks farmed from muscle cells – though to be honest, I would totally eat a Amanda Crew steak ANY day.
Though this film takes place in an alternate reality of ours, The Lucas Clinic is not a far stretch from reality. I always loved the fictitious company that offers an extraordinary service – like Lacuna Inc. from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that offered selective memory erasure, or the idea of dream security companies in Inception. I mean…look at what makes the news…we are involved in wars around the world, but all that the news seems to report is that Kim Kardashion is pregnant. WHO THE FUCK CARES?! This is a perfect time for this film to exist – it would not make as much of a poignant statement about modern culture in 1986, but rather the age of a TMZ show that seriously just shows 30 minutes worth of footage of random celebrities walking from A to B and a world where Perez Hilton exists. The idea of paying for a celebrities herpes is disgusting at first, but after an introspective look at the way things are going, it really seems like a feasible venture in the future – you KNOW basement-dwelling neck-beards would pay for anything from the day’s celebrity – if she was hot enough…and what bored housewife wouldn’t want a little bit of Clooney’s cells in them – the ultimate celebrity experience, for sure.
This movie will most likely be one of my top three movies of the year, not just because I loved every second if it, but I also saw past the bizarre into the realm of reality and plausibility. You think its sick now…just wait a decade…something similar will come out…
“Celebrities are not people, they are group hallucinations.”
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