Antiviral brings Cronenberg father-son act to Cannes

Mon May 21, 2012 9:48pm EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Syringes of infected blood, festering sores and sterile white labs are the images of "Antiviral", as young film maker Brandon Cronenberg borrows themes of disease and bodily transformation that have made his father David king of the body horror genre.

"Pass the sick bag, there's another Cronenberg on the block" read the headline of the Hollywood Reporter's review after the film debuted at the Cannes film festival, part of the "Un Certain Regard" competition for emerging directors.

Antiviral follows clinic worker Syd March, played by Caleb Landry Jones who with his pale skin and lanky frame has the look of a young undertaker.

Syd's job is to sell obsessed fans their favorite celebrity's infections. The world Cronenberg paints is bleak and cynical, and he is unsparing with his closeups of needles entering veins.

Grey-hued steaks made from celebrity cells, skin grafts from celebrities' skin and copious amounts of vomited blood all have a place in the thriller, which despite the nausea-inducing horror, moves at the speed of a clinic waiting room.

Cronenberg, 32, told Reuters his debut feature was "one manifestation of a broader human impulse, to deify people, to create gods and then tear them apart.

"I find it fairly fascinating," he said of celebrity culture. "People are so incredibly fanatical, that never ceases to amaze me how crazy people are. I think it can be incredibly grotesque at times."

As for his famous father, Cronenberg said he had never pushed him into film: "When I decided it was something I wanted to do, he was completely supportive.   Continued...

REFILE - CORRECTING TITLE OF FILM TO "ANTIVIRAL" Director Brandon Cronenberg (R) poses with cast member Sarah Gadon (C) and Caleb Landry Jones during a photocall for the film "Antiviral" at the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler