Antiviral? This gross-out fest should be sanitised

Hollywood is no place for pus, needles, bodily excretions and mouth sores

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The Independent Online

I thought movies were supposed to take you into a lovely world filled with pretty people and happy endings. Not to a place with needles, injections, pus, indeterminate bodily excretions and the biggest mouth sore you’ve ever seen.

The directorial debut from Brandon (son of David) Cronenberg seems to hide behind revolting tropes. I think it hopes that if you make people put their face in their hands while watching, the audience might not notice quite how thin the plot is.

Antiviral takes celebrity culture to hithertofore uncharted territory: the bodily diseases and viruses of our beloved superstars. It suggests that we idiotic normal people might be so desperate to “connect” with the likes of Lady Gaga that we want to lick the tissues they’ve just sneezed in and contract their illnesses.

“Glamour. Perfection. What if you could find it all at the tip of a needle? Bringing you closer to celebrity than ever before. With samples drawn directly from the source,” it promises.

Now, I know we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief. But I sat through this film knowing full well that if anyone came near me with a syringe full of VIP bacteria I’d run for the hills- even if it was Robert Pattinson’s. Granted, I’m a bit uptight about cleanliness, but I’d wager most people would react the same way.

And that’s the basic problem with this film. OK, so we’re not quite at the stage of celebrity obsession that it suggests we are. That’s fine. But taking parody into territory where instinctive human revulsion is overcome by fanboy zeal is ridiculous. I don’t buy it.

Elvis Presley’s soiled underpants failed to sell when they went under the hammer last month in Stockport, despite auctioneers predicting they’d fetch £10,000+. Pictures of the light blue briefs, slightly brown in the crotch area, were enough to put off even the most ardent Elvis fan, even the stains were a by-product of his famous hip-swivelling.

Illness isn’t normally sexy and the scatological is a major turnoff. Cronenberg Jr has made a piece of gross-out cinema that will attract the kind of teenage boy who likes to show his friends the colour of his snot. Not recommended to belonephobics.