The following of celebrities has reached a new low. Obsessed with wanting to experience what celebrities experience, people have begun to want celebrity illnesses and are willing to pay high price tags to get them. While Syd March is one of these people, he also works for the company that develops and sells these illnesses. Sneaking around and injecting himself with different viruses, he transports many of these to piracy groups for a price. He is originally obsessed with Aria Noble but turns his attention toward Hannah Geist when the opportunity presents itself. Injecting himself with her blood, he quickly feels the effects of her virus but is shocked when he learns that she is close to death. Being one of the last people to see her alive, he must fend off the piracy groups and protect himself so he can survive the illness and find a cure.
Starring: Caleb Landry Jones (Syd March), Sarah Gadon (Hannah Geist), Lisa Berry (Lucas Clinic Receptionist), Douglas Smith (Edward Porris), Nenna Abuwa (Aria Noble), Salvatore Antonio (Topp), Matt Watts (Mercer), Dawn Greenhalgh (Jane), Katie Bergin (Talk Show Host), Nicholas Campbell (Dorian), Lara Jean Chorostecki (Michelle), Reid Morgan (Derek Lessing), Elitsa Bako (Vera)
The overall tone of the film was rather bleak and depressing, and the acting definitely mirrors that tone. Jones was a bit of a confusing character. While his character’s obsession was clear from his performance, it was rather unbelievable that he would be able to avoid suspicion as long as he did considering how deathlike he looked throughout the middle of the film. The other actors seemed to ignore that his illnesses were much more severe than a head cold or the sniffles. Everyone else was rather calm and unassuming, even the more aggressive characters.
This film by Brandon Cronenberg was meant to serve as an intense and exaggerated representation of the obsession that many people have over celebrities. It was not enough for people to worship and idolize their favorite celebrities, but they had to experience even the horrible sides of their celebrities’ experiences. Illness was just one part of this obsession. Cannibalism seemed to be an additional accepted practice within this society. People would go to markets where people were growing steaks made of artificially-growth biological material from celebrities’ cells. Syd was the focus of this film, but his experience was a more extreme version of the obsession of the rest of the population. He used his access to go deeper than anyone else could achieve while avoiding getting caught for a long time.
This was a very challenging movie for its presentation and its premise. The point was clear but the way that it was conveyed was not very digestible. Graphically, the film was able to portray from extremely challenging material. The flesh and artificial tissue elements were lifelike and easy created a visceral reaction. The illnesses were also very well acted. The problem was that the tone was so sullen that it ruined the enjoyability of the story. Syd was not a likable protagonist, and everyone in the film was flawed and underdeveloped. While he was not the only one who was obsessed with celebrity illnesses, it was just presented as fact that this was the way of the world for these people and Syd lacked explanation for why he was more entangled than others. Cannibalism is reinforced throughout, and particularly at the end of the film, presenting a very scary extreme of the future of humanity.
The film lacked cohesion, likability of the characters, and any tone other than dystopian, so this would only be a film for a very select group of fans.
Dan’s Rating: 1.5/5