David Cronenberg movie every day. As to why, I have no f'ing clue...but here I am, finishing a blissful seven-day bender of blood, boobs, flesh, and flesh. And flesh. On this journey, I discovered (definitely late to the game on this one) that Antiviral—a movie I really enjoyed when I saw it a couple of years ago—is directed and written by none other than Papa Cronenberg's son, Brandon Cronenberg. I loved this movie when I saw it. It was weird, beautifully art directed, and simply put: a good time.
After my spiritual awakening this week and a second viewing of mini-Cronenberg's debut film, I have some new feelings. It still holds up as a "good movie" for me in that I wouldn’t cry if I had to rewatch it and I’ll probably continue to recommend it. The latter of which says nothing as I just recommended Dreamcatcher in 100% seriousness.
But...I feel like I’ve just seen the man behind the curtain instead of the Wizard of Oz or something. Like, Brandon builds a really cool universe, influenced largely by his father’s themes and interests, but at the last minute it’s like he gets too excited and wants to show us every single part in hi-def. Ultimately this dilutes the story line (which is so well acted and styled) so much that it kinda ends up being a big “So...What?”
My blood binge has made it impossible to un-see Antiviral as a younger version of Elder Cronenberg’s movies. Like. It’s all David. Granted, the movie is packaged differently: sleeker, more brooding (no humor), and up-to-date (ish) with the collective pop culture mindset. And WOW Caleb Landry Jones. But I don’t know if that’s enough for me. I’ll preface this bit with getting it out of the way that I KNOW it’s unfair to compare the two Cronies but I can’t help it. And I’m going to keep doing it.
But, again, perhaps I’m being unfair.
Brandon Cronenberg’s in the movie is obsessed with celebrity. Kind of like us, but more so. What a star’s genitalia must look like, their ailments, their body’s mechanics. The public literally consumes celebrity on a meal by meal, day by day basis. We meet Syd March, an employee at a bougie virus shop, the Lucas Clinic, where patrons can buy microbes that have lived inside the bodies of their favorite celebs and infect themselves. For example, you think Angelina Jolie’s a major babe? Well shoot some of her personal strain of herpes in your mouth and feel like you’ve shared a weekend tryst with the megastar. Yum!
(disclaimer: I have no idea if she does or doesn’t have any illness of any kind.)
We’re lead to believe that Syd can see through the veil of celebrity-obsessed mania. He doesn’t eat the celebrity-meat, he has a very rehearsed selling pitch for his clients, and he seems to do things based on his own agenda, unaffected by the craze that surrounds him. But as he falls deeper down the rabbit hole of black market virus hocking, we begin to see him change both physically and mentally. Cronenberg doesn’t really explain why any of this is happening at all, which I don’t know if we’re supposed to care about, but I find it unlikely that unless Syd had some serious side issue he needed to take care of he would participate in both legal and illegal virus distribution. Anyway. He ends up infecting himself with some Serious Shit and we are subjected to lecture after lecture of some major plotsplaining by various characters. Syd becomes obsessed with the celebrity whose viruses he’s been carrying and selling. And this is where the movie FELL APART for me this second viewing. Again, Brandon Cronenberg got too hung up on explaining every detail of a movie that he obviously loved, grew, and nurtured that he loses us entirely. It’s like 80% there. So. Close.
It’s just funny how you can think you love a movie, but after a rewatch and a really long look in the mirror, you can admit that maybe it’s not that great. So that’s the moral of the story. If you love something let it go, or wait til it catches a disease and inject yourself with it. Then you just might fall in love with the director’s father.