Antiviral: All in the (Cronenberg) Family


A loving family thrives on its traditions, and so it is that the debut feature from writer-director Brandon Cronenberg 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 close-ups 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.