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John’s Horror Corner: Antiviral (2012), a cultural sickness manifests in this “okay” Sci-Horror Medical Thriller.

May 13, 2022

MY CALL:  Director Brandon Cronenberg’s first film shows great promise in conceptualization and filmmaking, but fails to deliver in terms of story development. A decent movie I guess, but it definitely disappointed my expectations of suspense and horror.  MORE MOVIES LIKE AntiviralFor more medical horror, I’d recommend Fresh (2022).

The Lucas Clinic for the True Connoisseurs has the blaring bright whiteness of scenes from American Psycho (2000) or the Resident Evil sequels’ (2002-2016) laboratories or even Sci-Fi settings like Solaris (1972, 2002). The unrealistically clean and bright décor cultivates a sense of complete artificiality.

New client Edward (Douglas Smith; Ouija, The Bye Bye Man) is an obsessive fan of celebrity Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon; Dream House, Maps to the Stars). During Edward’s consultation with Lucas technician Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones; The Last Exorcism, Byzantium, Get Out), Syd preys on this fixation, eliciting strong emotional and infatuated responses as if deliberately psychologically intoxicating his client as foreplay… before the penetration of the syringe encapsulating a virus. Not just any virus, but the precise extracted strain of Herpes carried by the actress. And why? So that Edward could feel as if he contracted it from her, from her kiss, and feel more connected to her.

As the Lucas company profits selling celebrity viruses to their fanfare, Syd has found a way to beat the company’s security for his own interests. Only… when something goes wrong with his health, Syd faces a unique medical mystery that baffles his colleagues (Malcolm McDowell; ; Halloween I-II, 31) and co-conspirators (Joe Pingue; Maps to the Stars, Dream House) alike.

Director and writer Brandon Cronenberg’s (Possessor) first feature film is not without its merits, but it fell far short of my expectations. Where is the body horror? This story begins rather provocatively, but middles and ends into less interesting tedium with little development. What is intended as thrilling mystery ultimately falls rather flat for me, unfortunately. And whereas this film was never anything near riveting, transformative or wowing, it remains a shame that after such a titillating start it would reduce to this. It began with so much conceptual promise.

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