Festival Review: Antiviral Simon Fitzjohn October 4, 2012 London Film Festival, Movie Reviews 750 I imagine every one of you out there reading this has a favourite celebrity, whether it be a star of film or TV, sport, or one of those annoying ‘famous cos they are famous’ types that have sprung up over recent years. But how far would you go to get closer to your favourite celeb? That is the intriguing central premise of Antiviral, set in an ever-so near future where everyday folk are even offered the chance to be pumped full of the same diseases and viruses that their idols contract. A number of clinics have appeared you see, into which a handful of the world’s finest willingly enter into deals that see blood samples and swabs handed over in lucrative deals, allowing said clinics to mass-produce these illnesses for public consumption. Diseases, viruses and a dose of body horror? It all sounds early Cronenberg doesn’t it – say Rabid, Shivers or Videodrome. Well, the other hook here is that Antiviral is directed by none other than Brandon Cronenberg, son of genre titan David. And what a calling card for the young whippersnapper this is – an edgy, exhausting, full-on bizarre experience that will certainly not be to everyone’s tastes but definitely marks out Brandon as one to watch. Taking centre stage here is Caleb Landry Jones as Syd March, an employee of the Lucas Clinic, who as well as meeting the needs of his clients, also dabbles in some home juicing courtesy of swiped samples (illegal of course). Jones turns in a truly stunning performance here, a mix of piercing eyes and cold-hearted ambition, which rapidly turns into a descent into a blood-spewing, shivering wreck as the various viruses ravage his body. With Jones in virtually every scene of the film, Antiviral squarely sits on his shoulders – and boy does he deliver. There is also solid support from the likes of Sarah Gadon (as one of the main celebrity icons), as well as a late appearance from genre favourite Malcolm McDowell. There are flaws with this debut – there is a bit too much techno-babble for my liking and things seem to grind very slowly as the film builds towards a climax. But some slackness on the editing front is a small price to pay for a flick that in parts is daring, thought-provoking and even jaw-dropping. Antiviral may not be a film you will enjoy, but it will be one difficult to forget.