Are we too obsessed with celebrity? It’s a worthwhile consideration when you consider the fact that people probably know more about their favorite actor than the person in the next office that they see Monday through Friday. Celebrity obsession is the basis of the science fiction flick Antiviral, written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, he’s the son of director David Cronenberg). If I could use one word to describe the film, it would be disturbing. But don’t take that the wrong way! It’s definitely worth your 108 minutes.
Syd March works for a company that supplies live viruses, harvested from celebrities, to fans looking to feel closer to their favorite star. The premise is fascinating. We see celebrities as “perfect.” They are almost always made up and blemish free. You certainly don’t see a cold sore or a runny nose. But the film turns these very human “imperfections” into a commodity. It shows that celebrities are regular people and not regular people at the same time. These characters’ obsession with celebrities goes much deeper than viruses. Syd also smuggles out viruses, in his own body, to sell to piracy groups looking to cash in on the craze. One buyer runs a deli where people can buy celebrity “steaks.” Even restaurants serve this lab-grown meat. Syd gets into trouble when he injects himself with a virus he took from starlet Hannah Geist. She suddenly dies and he is left being hunted for the virus he carries all while trying to find a way to save his own life.
Without giving too much away, the movie is supposed to be disturbing. You are supposed to question the state of society (science fiction is great for that after all). The film itself is very minimalist. I’m not usually a fan but it really helps create a tone of monotony. The characters follow the celebrities in an unquestioning robotic pattern and so do we, the viewers, fall into a similar pattern.
So next time you sit down to find a movie on Netflix—and it’s a challenge indeed—consider Antiviral, it’s guaranteed to make your skin crawl and your mind race.
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