If the first poster and trailer for Brandon Cronenberg's "Antiviral" is any indication, the "body horror" apple hasn't fallen very far from the tree.
The young director's last name should be one that's very familiar to Canadian and international cinephiles. The son of famed Toronto filmmaker David Cronenberg, Brandon appears to be following in his father's stomach-churning footsteps with his feature film debut, "Antiviral." In a way that only a Cronenberg could, "Antiviral" lampoons society's obsession with celebrities and the lengths that people will go for a small taste of fame.
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The sci-fi film follows Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones from "X-Men: First Class"), an employee of an unusual company that sells celebrity diseases to deranged fans. By becoming infected with the same viruses that have afflicted their favourite stars, these disturbed celebrity devotees hope to get a little closer to their famous idols. But when Syd is infected by a disease that took the life of a young starlet (played by frequent David Cronenberg collaborator Sarah Gadon), he suddenly finds that he has become a twisted collector's item.
In addition to the trailer, the film's creators have launched a shudder-inducing viral site to complement "Antiviral." LucasClinic.com invites prospective patients to explore some of the "treatments" they offer, including the celebrity infirmities like the Norwalk virus, whooping cough, and herpes. Where can we sign up? The website is a very nice touch (complete with Facebook and Twitter pages), and one that is perfect given the timely subject matter of the film.
Coming from such a renowned filmmaking pedigree, the young Cronenberg's work is bound to be compared to his father's. It's hard to look at "Antiviral" and not be reminded of the elder Cronenberg's earlier films, but that's not a bad thing. The movie appears to fall somewhere in the spectrum between the horrific body shock of "Videodrome" and the sterile melancholy of "Cosmopolis."
With troubling themes like infection, obession, and decay, it looks like a thoroughly "Cronenbergian" exercise. That may be partially due to the way "Antiviral" is being marketed, but the director almost looks to be paying homage to his father with the movie.
Cronenberg's film competed at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May, where it garnered numerous positive reviews. The movie is set to have its Canadian premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
"Antiviral" will open in theatres on Oct. 12.