Receiving Celebrity Communion: Antiviral (2012)

Receiving Celebrity Communion:





“Horror, as a sub-genre of literature, has been around at least since 1764 and The Castle of Otranto, notwithstanding that I like to think the first manifestation of it was in the earliest written record, the recounting of Gilgamesh cutting trail with Grendel, which has been the high-water mark for mind-numbing horror until Britney Spears came along.”

—-Harlan Ellison


I really hate this celebrity-obsessed age.  I mean, I really fucking hate it.  I would love to round up every moron who stresses over how his or her favourite non-talent is doing in the Big Brother house and burn them alive.  Yes, alive.  You can’t afford to be soft with these people.  There are thousands of them and they are breeding and our gene pool is going to be the worst for this in another generation.  And there’s no point in simply not watching crap shows like this.  Those in charge of brainwashing simply plaster their loathsome faces over every copy of a newspaper you pick up.

And I’m not just talking about tabloids either.  You can even follow the continuing adventures of Lindsay Lohan in the broadsheets.  Lindsay who?  How the bloody hell should I know?  She was apparently some sort of teeny actress about a hundred years ago, but now makes a living as a washed-out alcoholic junkie.  With her own fan base of idiots, naturally.

Mass sterilisation is the only answer for the twats who follow every move made by Lohan or Britney Spears or any of the other hundreds of useless, talentless plastic people that this miserable society seems to worship.  I mean, Jesus wept.  I saw recently that a nude statue of a pregnant Kim Kardashian has been unveiled in Los Angeles.  Well, L.A., home of fruitcakes and tosspots; it’s the obvious place for it really.  But seriously, can you think of anything more grotesque?

Well, yeah.  A while back there was some young fella on Irish television showing off his tattoo of Jedward.  I’m not kidding you: of FUCKING JEDWARD!  Can you imagine how proud that kid’s father must be of him?

Some of these Section 5 Mental Defectives would do anything to emulate their heroes, their inspirations, their very reason for living.  Hell, one group of certifiable headbangers recently voted Cheryl Cole the most inspirational woman of the last ten years.  I’m not kidding, the last ten years.  CHERYL BLOODY COLE!

If they could, would they have themselves injected with the same virus with which their idol is suffering this week?  To feel, like, you know, closer to them.  You can bet your ass that they would.  And that is the premise of the strange film I’ve just been watching this evening.

Now, before I go any further:  To my older readers, are you sitting comfortably?  You are?  Then I’ll begin.  Cast your mind back to those halcyon days of the late 70s/ early 80s.  Can you remember them or has your dotage kicked in?  No?  Then imagine that I tell you there is a new film out on the above theme;  that it deals with body horror; that it involves an organisation called the Lucas Clinic;  that there are hallucinations of the body rebelling against itself; that there is a semi-mad doctor called Abendroth; and that it contains such great lines as:

“Sexual politics are involved because of self-penetration by the virus… From the perspective of the virus, the human being is irrelevant.”

Now if, after I had thrown all of that at you, I then asked you who the director was I would not be surprised if you said it was David Cronenberg.  And you wouldn’t be too far wrong.  But this is 2013 and Antiviral is written and directed by none other than his son, Brandon Cronenberg— showing that in this case the organ didn’t fall far through the rib-cage.

A rather welcome antidote (geddit?) to the continuing series of super hero and TV remakes that Hollywood seems to have reconciled itself to these days, Antiviral is an interesting feature from a new director.  It’s inevitable—especially given the subject matter—that he’ll be compared to his father.  I’m sure that he’ll get over that, though.

Syd March (Caleb Jones) is a pale, unhealthy and rather creepy young man who works in sales at the Lucas Clinic, where obsessed gobshites of fans can have themselves injected with a disease that their favourite celebrity has suffered from.  It is described as ‘biological communion’ at one point, an observation that takes on horrific meaning towards the end of the film.  Syd has a side line in smuggling out various viruses in his own body to sell on the black market to the utterly amoral Arvid (Joe Pingue).  Arvid runs a butcher shop where, if you are the type of dickwad who thinks that Justin Beiber is the ultimate human being, you can buy a steak grown from his cells.

“I don’t understand how this isn’t considered cannibalism”, wonders Syd.  To which Arvid replies reasonably:

“These are just the muscle cells.  It all depends on whether the human being is found in its materials.  Right now the law tends towards something more religious. [?] We’ll see what happens when we go from growing celebrity cell steaks to growing complete celebrity bodies.”

Uh…gotcha, I think.  Actually I found this guy very funny. Another of his gems was:

“Are you aware that they’re still growing the cancer cells of a woman who died in the 1950s?  They use them for research.  So these cells of hers are alive and multiplying all over the world.  The after- life is getting extremely perverse.”

Of course, this is quite a nice little earner for the celebrities themselves; but when Syd is called to collect blood from super-celeb Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) he finds that he has injected more than he can absorb.  Because Hannah is in fact dying.

(In a nice little touch the word is that she contracted a disease whilst looking at some orphans in China.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Madonna…nah, I better not go there.  Madonna has never done anything wrong to me.)  And this gives Cronenberg the chance to comment on the phoniness of grieving for someone you don’t know, recalling the astonishing scenes when Princess Diana exited stage left in a Parisian tunnel some years ago.  Of Hannah, the head of the clinic intones:

“There is less light in the world now.  That much is certain.  A ray of light has been lost…”  Blah blah blah.  I’ll bet Tony Blair wishes he’d had that to add to the ‘People’s Princess’ speech.

I thoroughly enjoyed Antiviral.  It is, however, uneven; and in the second half it begins to crawl to a halt until Malcolm McDowell pops up as Dr.  Abendroth.  It is cold, it is austere; but yet I found it darkly humorous.  Maybe it’s just me.

But could it happen?  Are you kidding me?  If I could tell my father that, if he had just hung on a bit longer to the twig he would have been living in a world where you can see wannabees giving birth on live TV, he wouldn’t have believed me.

Now, where’s my autograph book and syringe?  I have a date with Johnny Depp!


[youtube id=”XIZb50HiBCo” width=”635″ height=”385″]

Author: Charley Brady

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.