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Quarantine queue: what to watch in these end times

Quite a few people, including yours truly, have found ourselves with more time than we know how to spend. And what better time killer than movies, so I’ve put together a watchlist of themed end-of-the-world / isolation-themed movies for your viewing pleasure. If you want to wallow in your misery, this is perfect for you.

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Another article about the Coronavirus. Yep. But unlike say, a news article, or a Guardian Op-ed about the most effective way of utilising national disinfectant supplies, this article isn’t useful at all. Or, I guess, depending on how you look at it, it’s the only useful article you’ll read today. 

 

These are uncertain times. Most of us are suddenly having to close our doors, bolt our windows, Google how to actually wash our hands, and stay indoors. There is one good thing about all this, though. No, I’m not talking about death or taxes. No one seems to be really sure if we’re going to die, and the governments of the world sure as hell don’t know what to do about the taxes. The one certain thing remaining, that we can always return to: movies. 

 

Quite a few people, including yours truly, have found ourselves with more time than we know how to spend. And what better time killer than movies, so I’ve put together a watchlist of themed end-of-the-world / isolation-themed movies for your viewing pleasure. If you want to wallow in your misery, this is perfect for you. 

 

Keep an eye out for an opposite-themed list later this week. 

 

#1: [REC] (2007)

 

What it’s about

A news crew follows a team of firemen on an emergency into a shady apartment building in central Madrid. After arriving, they realise the cause of the alarm was much more alarming than they previously thought. As if things couldn’t get worse, authorities lock the doors, to the building, quarantining the crew, the firemen and the residents.

Why you should watch it

Undeniably, in my mind, the scariest found-footage horror film ever made. Usually, it’s a subgenre I don’t get behind, but the gimmick is used perfectly in this film. The storytelling is organic, the acting is incredibly realistic, and the ending will have you desperately longing for a warm shower. It’s a thoroughly stressful, frightening and claustrophobic experience. A modern classic. 

 

#2: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

 

What it’s about

Mary Elizabeth Winstead crashes her car and blacks out. She wakes up in John Goodman’s basement. He tells her she can’t leave because the apocalypse has happened and they’ll be safe in his underground bunker. Is he to be believed? Who’s that other guy with a broken arm? What if the world actually has ended? 

Why you should watch it

It’s the directorial debut from a fellow called Dan Trachtenberg, and he does amazing job building tension from incremental details. The pressure keeps mounting for the film’s entire runtime, leading up to a… less than expected climax. And, you know, it’s about people forced to stay in-doors. Pretty topical. 

 

#3: The Host (2007)

 

What it’s about

One fateful day, a gigantic terrifying monster jumps out of the Seoul river and interrupts quite a few riverside picnics. And I hear you. That’s bad enough. But on top of that, the monster kidnaps the main character’s daughter. And that means business. Oh, and people start suspecting the monster is spreading a flu-type disease across South Korea, but no one’s really sure, and people start getting paranoid. Sound familiar?

Why you should watch it

A bit more than a month ago, a little movie by the name of Parasite took home the Best Picture Oscar. That’s an achievement on its own, and it being the first non-English language film to grab the statue makes it even better. The movie is also really, really damn good. Anyway, enough about Parasite. The Host is directed by the same guy, Bong Joon-Ho, so you kind of out it to yourself to watch it at this point. You won’t regret it. 

 

#4: Contagion (2011)

 

What it’s about

A deadly airborne virus spreads across the globe and scientists, service workers, blue collars, and Gwyneth Paltrow scramble to solve the issue before it wreaks havoc on the world. Just like in real life, panic becomes the real problem, and containing it a seemingly impossible task.

Why you should watch it

Alright. I’m gonna be honest with you. I’ve never seen Contagion. I don’t know if it’s any good. I just know that despite coming out almost nine years ago, it’s currently the number one movie on iTunes and YouTube. If there’s any time to watch this, it’s now. Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Unsane) directed it, though, so I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s fine. 

 

#5: 28 Days Later (2002)

 

What it’s about

Cillian Murphy wakes up in the hospital 28 days after an unstoppable virus swept Britain. The world outside the window is one he hardly recognises. There’s no one around, and what few people he finds look very… strange. He ventures out into London, looking for survivors. He finds them, but he finds some other things too.

Why you should watch it

My description is very vague, but there’s no way around being crass: this is a zombie movie. Maybe that’s your thing, maybe it’s not. But this isn’t your regular Romero, Walking Dead type deal. Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic classic goes more for atmosphere and visceral action over the usual “let’s figure out how to deal with this” kind of thing. Plus, it has an iconic scene of the protagonist stumbling through absolutely empty city streets, and it’s got the same energy as I did when I took the bus yesterday. 

 

#6: The Crazies (1973)

 

What it’s about 

A biological weapon is mistakenly released in a small American town, turning its residents into violent maniacs. Chaos reigns. You get it by now. 

Why you should watch it

The original “holy shit oh no this disease will kill us all” from the creator of the original “holy shit oh no these zombies will kill us all” movie. I wonder if George Romero was an anxious guy. In contrast to a lot of today’s disease-horror movies, this film is more concerned with the authorities (lack of) response to crisis. The victims don’t know what’s going on, and the scientists and politicians know even less. Like I said, I wonder if Romero was an anxious guy. 

 

One to look forward to: My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2021)

What it’s about

This upcoming film is about a woman unsatisfied and bored with her life, who escalates her use of prescription drugs to sleep through a whole year. Directed by weirdo-favourite and The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos and based on the above acclaimed book, this is one to mark in your calendars. If it had a release date. Which it doesn’t. At least at the moment. 

Why you should watch it

Epidemiologists and other experts have a rough idea of how long this whole epidemic business is going to stick around. Still, there’s no denying that there’s an unknowable element at play here. For all we know we could be spending the next several months inside. In ten years, the summer of 2020 might be known as the one where no one did anything. To some that sounds like heaven and to others like hell. I’m somewhere in the middle. But stress helps no one. The best we can do presently is making sure to rest and relax. And wash our hands.

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