Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Film Review: Antiviral (2012)

Antiviral (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...I love the concept, but disliked the execution."
Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at a clinic which sells viruses harvested from celebrities to die-hard fans; he also uses his body as a vessel to smuggle illegal samples to piracy groups. When Syd contracts a deadly virus from superstar Hannah Geist, he is dragged into a much more sinister plot...

Antiviral is an interesting blend of SciFi, horror, and social commentary. The story continues with Syd discovering the sinister plot, as well as trying to save himself from the deadly virus. However, it is much more twisted than expected as the plot twists at every corner. One moment he'll be attacked by obsessed fans and piracy groups; the next, he'll have to escape a facility trying to record the virus for "closure". The film's ending is chilling, but expected; I like the ending of the film, although it drags a bit, and felt like it left room for some interpretation -- actually, it left room for some contemplation and reflection.

The problem in Antiviral is its lack of story. For a film over 1 hour and 40 minutes long, Antiviral lacks meat -- it lacks events. It also lacks bridges connecting certain scenes; I don’t need a film to hold my hand, but when a scene ends abruptly and starts in a new environment, it kind of feels disconnected. To replace the bridges, the film features prolonged "art-house" scenes; the "ooh look at this long, unnecessary close-up" or "Hey, I'm thinking deeply up here"; I say the "artsy" approach fails this time, it feels inauthentic and forced. The concept is chilling, the view on society -- despite being pessimistic -- is believable and may be accurate, and some scenes are incredibly disturbing. I don't completely hate it, I just wish it used its concepts more than it used its art-house elements.

Caleb Landry Jones is great as the lead, although his performance is mostly minimalistic; he occasionally lacks screen presence, but it's redeemed by his facial expressions and dialogue delivery. The rest of the cast is also great, Malcom McDowell is always a welcomed addition. I liked the film's musical score, it matched the genre and tone of the film; it felt ominous, which adds to the chilling concept. Brandon Cronenberg has a solid story, but lacks the tight direction and storytelling required; his attempts at being an artist are just too blunt and obvious, and actually eclipse the story.

Overall, Antiviral is a decent SciFi film; I love the concept, but disliked the execution. From a technical standpoint, excluding its screenplay, it's an exceptional film. I recommend for open-minded filmgoers, fans looking for a pure horror film will likely be disappointed.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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