‘Brandon Cronenberg’s striking body-horror debut is a chilling vision of our cultural obsession with celebrity. In a dystopian future world, Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at the Lucas Clinic, which has an unusual and highly profitable line of business: deliberately infecting paying customers with diseases harvested from top celebrities, thus providing a ‘biological communion’ between stars and fans. Gruesomely absurd and incisive, Antiviral is a visceral satire on our contemporary society of the spectacle.’ (Toronto Film Festival)
Director Brandon Cronenberg talks about the inspiration for his debut feature, the comparisons made to his father’s work, and his exposure to celebrity culture from a young age:
‘I actually started by thinking about the intimacy of illness, rather than celebrity culture. I was in the middle of a bad fever, and was obsessing over the physicality of illness – how I had something in my body and inside my cells that came from someone else’s body, and how there was something strangely intimate about that connection. Afterwards, I started thinking about what kind of character might be able to see disease that way, and it developed into an interesting metaphor and platform for discussing celebrity obsession. ‘I knew when I decided to work as a filmmaker that I would be compared to my father. So early on, I decided to not worry about his career when thinking about my own work. I’m really just doing what’s interesting to me.’
‘I definitely think having some exposure to both sides of celebrity culture helped give me some perspective for the script. There is an enormous disconnect between celebrities as they exist as characters in the media, celebrities as social constructs, and the actual people those characters are based on. Which seems obvious, but when you’re familiar with someone who has some degree of fame, the extent to which you see them become fictionalized is pretty shocking.’
BBFC Cert 18.