Film review: Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg's body-horror debut

(15)

Unpleasant but not uninteresting, this Canadian body-horror satire marks the debut feature of Brandon – son of David – Cronenberg, and on this evidence he's a chip off the old block. Caleb Landry Jones, pale as a plaster saint, plays Syd, an employee at a clinic that sells viruses harvested from celebrities to their obsessed fans.

One such celeb is Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), whose last fatal virus has become a target for hardcore collectors. Syd decides to flog it on the black market, but reckons without the forces of darkness on his tail.

Cronenberg Jr's imagined dystopia conjures some vividly horrible sights, though his screenwriting lags some way behind. While the idea that celebrity has run out of control – people seeking out actual diseases and deformations to effect a "biological communion" with their idols – is pursued with a certain sick logic, there's a self-importance, even arrogance, to the tone that repels.

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