Thursday, 14 February 2013

REVIEW - ANTIVIRAL


Horror film as social commentary, or is it the other way around? Either way, one gets in the other's, and Brandon Cronenberg overcooks his slick new-Millennium update of the kind of low-budget 'body horror' films his father made in the 70s and 80s. Visually, none of the seams are showing, but thematically, Antiviral is haggard, consisting of one simple, trite observation made incessantly and ham-fistedly. It's a premise worthy of the most pretentious student film, glossed up by sexy, stark imagery worthy of a high-grade commercial. What a startling dichotomy. It's not necessarily that Cronenberg needed to explore greater psychological depths - if anything, it's the opposite. As an insidious little horror, Antiviral is quite satisfying, and Cronenberg's love of all things red and runny produces many memorable moments. He could have gone a little further - it leads to less than it ought to, save one deliciously disquieting burst of eroticism, Cronenberg-style. An increasingly fraught Caleb Landry Jones sulks his way through endless scenes of illness and desperation, which reach the point of tedium, but Jones' dedication to the role is impressive. The camera rarely leaves him - that same tunnel vision that Brandon's father employs, only to more characteristic effect, understandably, and Brandon is unable to either mimic this effect or to create one of his own. Sarah Gadon is miscast as megastar Hannah Geist, and the film's inability to convincingly distill the cult of celebrity in the modern era is centered upon her and her character.