Popcorn Taxi and Rialto proudly present: ANTIVIRAL + Q&A with director, Brandon Cronenberg, live on the line from Toronto!
In a near-future Toronto, obsessed fans can be injected with viruses harvested from celebrities—for a price. Syd (Caleb Landry Jones) March works at the ultra high security Lucas Clinic, but he has a lucrative sideline: smuggling viruses by injecting them into in his body, and selling them on the black market.
“Celebrity is not an accomplishment. Not at all. It’s more like a collaboration that we choose to take part in. Celebrities are not people. They’re group hallucinations.”
The film is a sharp look at today’s fame-obsessed culture, but it’s also an investigation of the physical side of intimacy. What’s the difference between the person you love and the body, and cells, they inhabit? While it’s also a clinical suffocation into unsettling medical horror, there’s more to the film than a flesh-crawling ‘ick factor’.
“I didn’t realise we were making a horror movie until halfway through shooting it.”
Beautifully photographed in an uncompromising monochrome of mostly white and red, this is a film for true Cronenberg fans. If you revel in films such as Videodrome, Rabid and Naked Lunch, Antiviral could very much come from Brandon’s father, David.
“It’s exactly the oddball and crooked tale you’d want and expect from a Cronenberg with all the gratuitous blood, pus, bone and multiple close-ups of needles piercing skin you could ask for. Dad would be proud.”
The Playlist, LA Times
Shot for a budget just north of $3 million, Antiviral is an accomplished and stylish debut, nominated for Un Certain Regard at Cannes, Winner of the Citizen Kane Awaard and the Caret Jove Jury Award at Sitges, and the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Antiviral stars Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Sarah Gadon (A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis) and Malcolm McDowell; written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg.
“Papa Cronenberg must be proud, but be advised: If there’s a blood test in your future, book it before seeing this movie.”
Our Guest: Brandon Cronenberg
The son of David Cronenberg, Brandon makes his feature film debut with Antiviral, expanding on his short film, BrokenTulips (2008).
Antiviral is the result of a fever dream—when Brandon Cronenberg had the flu—the idea of someone’s else’s virus inside him gave birth to an idea that then took off while watching Sarah Michelle Gellar sneeze on Jimmy Kimmel to an applauding audience.
Brandon’s earliest memory of any of his father’s sets was going on the set of The Fly.
“(Growing Up) I saw people who were celebrities who had this media alter ego, or this persona, that was so unrelated to who they were as human beings. And that’s definitely one of the themes in the film: celebrities as these media constructs or cultural constructs that exist purely in the public consciousness and are, in many ways, fictional and unrelated to the real human being.”
Never wanting to become a filmmaker, growing up, Brandon was bookish, keen on becoming a sci-fi writer, painter or a musician, and wanting to get away from his father’s shadow by specifically not being a filmmaker.
He entered the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto in 2004 as a way to combine all his interests, and has since discovered that film is entirely different.
“David Cronenberg should be feeling pretty chuffed with son Brandon’s big-screen debut, a petri dish of high-concept perversity and cultural commentary teeming with lo-fi ickiness.”
The Hollywood Reporter
ANTIVIRAL is released on DVD and VOD on August 7.