Film Reviews

Antiviral Is Hide-Your-Eyes Yucky

A loving family thrives on its traditions, and so it is that Antiviral, the debut feature from writer-director Brandon Cronenberg and the first film of Coral Gables Art Cinema's "Gables After Dark" series, proves to be just as hide-your-eyes yucky as the early films of his father, Canadian auteur David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly, A History of Violence). Antiviral imagines a world in which celebrity-obsessed average joes pay for the privilege of being injected with colds, flus, and far nastier viruses harvested from the voluntarily donated blood of movie stars and models. Young Syd March (a fearless Caleb Landry Jones) works in a virus clinic and is secretly injecting himself with the blood he's assigned to draw from famous beauty Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon). Syd is selling his Hannah-enriched blood on the black market, an enterprise that makes his body a dangerously valuable commodity. Cronenberg works in sly jokes about consumerism run amok, but the unceasing closeups of injections, including one in a man's gums, and the filmmaker's daring exploration of blood fetishism — thick, tasty blood spewed on sterile-white walls — is cultural satire taken to the extreme. Papa Cronenberg must be proud, but be advised: If there's a blood test in your future, book it before seeing this movie.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.