With theatres closed and a large number of people working from home, streaming and on-demand services have become the biggest hub from which the populace can seek entertainment during the time of Coronavirus-related social distancing. However, speckled amongst the typically popular fare are titles that hardly offer an escape from our current reality, in that, over the last week, streaming services are seeing a spike in interest in content related to pandemics, outbreaks, and apocalyptic narratives.
In the midst of COVID-19, some viewers might, for whatever reason, be seeking an imagined glimpse into what might be on the horizon. Perhaps they want to watch something that reflects the most extreme version of what the world is dealing with right now, if only to see how film characters manage during these difficult times and to feel like we are not alone in this curious reality. While there are plenty of pandemic films out there, not all of them are created equally, and so, in conjunction with Lindsay Guion, CEO and Chairman of GUION PARTNERS, a media management and consulting firm, here are three of the worthiest pandemic movies for your viewing pleasure.
1 – Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011)
Contagion, raced up the iTunes and Netflix charts to take a Top Ten position this month, helped no doubt by the film’s parallels with the current outbreak of Coronavirus. This fast-paced thriller charts the rapid transmission of a global virus as scientists hurry to find a vaccine and social order disintegrates. Lindsay Guion notes that despite Contagion’s status as a Hollywood thriller, this fast-paced multi-perspective narrative has also been lauded as ultra-realistic, after all, it was informed by the World Health Organization and praised for its accurate depiction of a pandemic by scientists. Contagion is at once funny, scary, stylish, and a plausible speculation of life during a global outbreak.
2 – Outbreak (Wolfgang Petersen, 1995)
Outbreak takes place in a California town that is quarantined when it becomes ground zero for an Ebola–like outbreak propagated by a host of small monkeys. The story centres on the military and medical researchers charged with containing and treating the infected. A modern classic in regards to the genre of pandemic movies, the film echoes real-life in multiple ways as it opened while an actual Ebola outbreak was occurring in Zaire and it was based on the nonfiction account on the spread of filoviruses titled, “The Hot Zone.” Guion describes Outbreak as part action-thriller part romance and a far more light-hearted film than a lot of its counterparts.
3 – World War Z (Marc Forster, 2013)
Adapted from the 2006 Max Brooks novel of the same name, World War Z takes the same basic idea, analyzing a virus-based outbreak through a geopolitical lens, and breathes new life into it. It is also representative of an extremely well-liked subset of virus films, which Guion could not leave off the list, that is, zombie apocalypse movies. Seen through the eyes of a former UN employee put back on the frontlines to help find a cure, World War Z utilizes an interesting global angle, as the main character travels through different countries interacting with soldiers and doctors and witnessing just how international governments respond to a global health crisis.
No matter the reason for seeking these films out, it’s important to remember that they’re just that, movies. Movies provide escapism and while allowing us to check out for a moment, they are neither a guidebook for how to deal with Coronavirus stress. If you think these movies will provide solace, check them out, while remaining safe at home with loved ones.