It is one of the golden themes in film. Whether we are waxing revolutionary about this nation’s fight against tyranny or a director wants to highlight his or her vision on the War in Iraq, conflict between nations or people has usually been a thing crowds harangue to theaters to see.
What happens when all the storylines in war and conflict are taken? Hollywood finds other things to battle — aliens, demons, creatures, monsters, and even bio-hazardous epidemics.
Tinseltown has touched upon the quarantining, grocery stockpiling, mass worrying, and fear looming many times. Several times, the movies have even been entertaining.
And since you aren’t going to a theater for the next couple of weeks, here are some of the movies you can stream to get a hyperbolic and romanticized point-of-view of what’s to come against COVID-19. From germophobia epidemics to post-apocalyptic remnants of what used to be human, this has been done several times before.
We will be okay (eventually), but grab the alcohol wipes and your remote for the next few weeks. It’s self-quarantine time!
1. Contagion (2011)
Steven Soderbergh must have been inspired by SARS in 2003 (the first “Coronavirus”) because this movie brings it, even in the first 20 minutes. (I mean, dude killed off Gwyneth Paltrow immediately…how serious is that?!)
If you want to see a fairly realistic look at what typical people would devolve into in the face of a national epidemic, watch this film. Honestly, it’s a solid film with a strong cast. However, once you gasp and swoon and wonder if you have enough disinfectant, remember this is Hollywood and calm down. Not for nothing, people aren’t stockpiling toilet paper in this movie.
2. Outbreak (1995)
Instead of focusing on the devolution of mankind when faced with breathing toxic air, this film causes us to look closer at the government, specifically the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the military.
The “outbreak” happens and an entire town is forced to live in a bubble. At times, it is harrowing to watch. Then, there is this one scene forcing everyone to rush for the bulk-rate clearinghouse and buy a tub of disinfectant. That, and ban visiting the damn monkey exhibit at the zoo forever. (It was really convincing.)
3. I Am Legend (2007)
Feeling lonely during a corporate- or school-imposed quarantine? Yeah, Will Smith felt that way too. He had a dog, a bathtub, 47 different locks on his door, and the threat of flesh-eating zombies coming to his apartment selling Girl Scout cookies.
The thought of being alone in your town gets a little old when you see how perfunctory special effects wane through a world that eradicated every human, save one. Despite it all, the movie is entertaining and worth your binging pleasure.
4. 28 Days Later (2002)
It’s been a month since the UK was ravaged by this mysterious “rage” virus that killed anyone within breathing reach. Of course, a handful of fortunate souls scurry across the Gothic countryside searching for safety. Yeah, not so much. That guy you had the hots for could soon get hot breath making you a hot lunch.
Across a serene river or in a locked airplane 30,000 feet in the air (really), this rage virus is angrily finding a new host to make Wolverine look like Mother Teresa. While COVID-19 isn’t doing much for temperament, I have seen people act like the Rage Virus has them in the hand soap aisle at the grocery store recently.
5. Children of Men (2006)
If you like a planet-ender pandemic to have a little sci-fi flair, this is your movie. Mankind is facing extinction and the youngest human (18 years old) just died. That is, until we find a pregnant woman who is being rushed to safety so she can give birth and give a generation the reason to hope again.
Miraculous pregnancy? Child who will spark faith in millions? People rush to hate the woman? Man protecting the woman? Sounds like a metaphor of biblical proportions to you? It should…and, it kinda is.
6. World War Z (2013)
The movie that brought us “super zombies.” (And, if this is your thing, Brad Pitt fighting said super dead people.) One infection and entire neighborhood become mindless freaks who can run like Usain Bolt en route to the last pizza buffet on Earth.
Of course, our hero is daring enough to combat the Olympiad sprinting bottom-feeders to learn what caused the outbreak and how to stop it. Humanity is at risk. The government can’t figure it out. People are freaking out. The safety of the world lies in the balance. And our hero saves the day. Everything you need in a zombie movie.
7. It Comes at Night (2017)
What happens when people are left to nothing but nature and the frail human condition in the face of a haunting epidemic? It Comes At Night gives a fascinating point-of-view on what can happen when you are left with nothing to fill your mind but supposition and imagination.
This virus creates a sleepwalking parasite that leeches onto other people, which is why we have Joel Edgerton’s character hunkered down in the woods. A load of sleepwalking dream sequences causes you to ponder on what’s real and what’s really strange. A solid film from A24 that deserved more love than it got in the box office.
8. The Omega Man (1971)
A classic “last man on earth” film, which inspired the aforementioned I Am Legend. This was 1971’s The Omega Man (Alpha. Omega. Get it?) starring the great Charlton Heston. He is a Colonel in the U.S. Army and the only survivor of a biohazardous plague that killed everyone and leaving a few casualties in its wake.
By day, he fights going insane left to toil with his thoughts. By night, he fights–you guessed it–infected mutants. Of course, our hero has a vaccine. If only he could find more humans to help. Stream this if you like understanding where the “new classics” were built.
9. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Okay, okay. Yes, another Brad Pitt movie, but for the nerd in you binging on these pandemic pleasures, this ranks on any list. This strong offering from Director Terry Gilliam involves time travel (from the year 2035 to 1999) and a global epidemic that will wipe out the world’s population if a solution can’t be found.
It’s not a far stretch to say the 1990s wouldn’t have been the same in the sci-fi genre without this movie because it captured all the nerd feels in one film. Also, the idea of a pandemic that could be thwarted was interesting, namely since the aftermath of such a thing would devastate humanity.
One last thing: Bruce Willis is in this, so you know some ish is getting blown to hell, which is never a bad thing for an apocalyptic virus film, right?
10. Blindness (2008)
A seriously underrated and enigmatic movie based on the same-named 1995 novel by Jose Saramago. This “white sickness,” as we learn in either medium, is spreading and causing the inflicted with sudden visual impairment.
Much like we are currently experiencing with COVID-19, this movie explores how pandemics affect people within as the rest of the world goes without. And it’s raw causing an all-star cast (e.g., Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal) to pierce through the screen and cause the audience some truly visceral moments. Could this happen to you? Blindness opens your eyes, so to speak.
Give this a shot. You will not be disappointed and may even pay a visit to your ophthalmologist, so that’s not so bad, right?