If you ask horror fans why they love watching people get chopped up and chased to their deaths, many of us might say that it brings us a sort of calm. And while that might sound absolutely psychopathic to some, it seems there is something therapeutic in being able to place any and all anxieties onto a tangible — and entirely fictional — frightening experience. Catharsis at its best, baby! Filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg seems to share a similar sentiment since he talked about how his first film “Antiviral” utilized gore that he hoped would be restorative for viewers.
In an interview for Crash, Cronenberg said, “I thought the scenes could almost be like a kind of therapy, by associating this culture with images that are uncomfortable and repulsive.” So, in other words, ordering a nice slice of Hannah Geist cell steak is meant to freak us out into helping us overcome our devotional impulses. But Cronenberg also recognizes that the gore in “Antiviral” operates on another level. “It’s also part of the satire,” he explained. “When herpes, which is normally repulsive, becomes suddenly desirable, that’s when the power of celebrity seems very extreme. When the more repulsive something is, the more attractive it becomes. Exaggeration is a big part of the film.”
So whether or not you are watching “Antiviral” because you despise celebrity worship or because you find the movie’s heavy reliance on the grotesque to be oddly satisfying, the movie is always meant to spark conversation around what it means to call yourself a fan.