As a leading UK script consultant and scriptwriter for hire I’m a big fan of David Cronenberg, especially the early stuff. And I suppose Brandon Cronenberg, David’s son, is part of his early work in a way, and he’s a chip off the old block if Antiviral is anything to go by.
This was Brandon’s first feature film, very much a body horror, like his Dad’s best stuff. Now, we’re in the middle of a worldwide Pandemic and while Antiviral deals with a mutant virus, the real horror is actually about celebrity obsession – a sickness in society.
I won’t reveal too much about the plot – see it yourself, but there’s a remarkable performance in this film by Caleb Landry Jones, who spends a huge amount of the running time of the film very ill. This is hard physical acting, as he still has to get about and deliver the plot. His pale skin helps a great deal.
I’m a sometimes a bit a lost with modern horror films. I don’t like people locked in one place and tortured, stuff like Midsommar (2019), as well made as it is, seems derivative, overly serious and totally lacking a sense of humour (let’s face it, it’s a shit boyfriend film with an overblown Wicker Man theme).
I miss films that can scare, and make you smile – Cronenberg Snr’s Scanners (1981) is a perfect example of this, serious film, great horror and scares, and not too up its own arse. Watching Antiviral I was struck by a wicked sense of fun as well – something missing from a lot of new horror films too prone to taking themselves far too seriously. There are a few clever gags in this and at least twice the characters say ‘catch you later’ to a character infected with a killer flu.
I’ve pre-ordered the DVD of Brandon’s new film Possessor, its been acclaimed by the critics and I can’t wait to see it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the new blood, and lets hope he remembers that nothing is ever spoilt by a few laughs…
Matthew Cooper has been a scriptwriter for hire, UK Script editor and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.
You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.
You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.