What Makes ‘Contagion’ The Most Relevant “Horror” Film Right Now?

April 16, 2020

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

Alright first off, true, Contagion is not really a horror film, but a thriller but due to recent events going on around the world, it might as well be as there are so many creepy similarities boarding lining with Simpsonsesque foresight which is why the film is more relevant now than when it came out in 2011. What adds credence to the film is the outpouring of praise and support by the scientific community that applaud the film’s showing of what goes on behind the scenes when scientists are put on the front line to fight a pandemic.



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For those not familiar with the film, Contagion follows the spread of a new (fictitious) virus that becomes known as MEV-1 and how it spread quickly around the world causing mass panic and death while the CDC along with other organizations struggle to find a way to combat the virus as misinformation spreads.



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The Virus

The MEV-1 virus, like the real-life COVID-19, spreads quickly through contact with surfaces touched by those infected which the film does a good job of pointing out whenever this occurs so by the end of the film you become obsessed with washing your hands after touching everything.



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Much like COVID-19, in the film experts are not 100% sure where the virus came from, through checking the viruses DNA they were able to tell that the virus originated in a bat before going to a pig, a test like this was done on the COVID-19 virus and posted in The Journal of Virology suggesting the origin of the virus most likely came from a species of snake called the Many-Banded Krait before ending up in bats.






The Virus’s Origin and Spread

The origin of the outbreak of the MEV-1 virus was in Hong Kong and then spread quickly to other countries as it’s revealed later that many of the carriers of the virus were all at the same casino where it reveled at the end how the virus arrived in the casino and subsequently infected Gwyneth Paltrow’s character who was in Hong Kong on business before bringing the virus back to the U.S. but while she was at the casino she infected a Ukrainian model, a Japanese businessman, and a waiter from Hong Kong.

COVID-19, as we all know, originated in China and spread quite quickly through the country before appearing around the world leading to a rise in hate crimes against Asians (in the U.S.) as they were portrayed by some in politics as the ones spreading the virus while the likelihood of the virus being spread by non-Chinese is high because 119,780 foreign tourists visited China in 2019. It’s unclear from the information whether they mean tourists not from China or if they’re using the term “foreign” in the same way as some Asian countries to describe someone non-Asian.



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Misinformation and “Cures” for Profit

The film’s human antagonist is a conspiracy theorist played by Jude Law who uses his blog to spread misinformation and worry about the virus to the public just to get more and more hits on his blog and even tries to get people to ignore the CDC. His growth in popularity led him to land a deal with a homeopathic company to pedal a product of theirs as a cure, going as far as to fake being sick and taking the medicine and emerging as being cured (even though he walks around in a home-made hazmat suit) resulting in him making millions overnight.

With COVID-19 We’re seeing it all right now with conspiracy theorists and other armchair/keyboard experts touting unfounded conspiracies on the internet and even on news stations that can be easily debunked with a Google search and a half-hour devoted to reading scholarly articles on the subject.



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Some of these conspiracy theorists and opportunists are even trying to sell “cures” for COVID-19 which like the Forsythia product in Contagion, is proven by science to treat the virus.


The CDC’s Struggle

In Contagion, the CDC struggles on a two-sided front, trying to contain the spread of the MEV-1 virus, finding a vaccine, and battling those spreading misinformation. In the film, it was mentioned that it would be hard to get the public to listen to them after how they overreacted during the H1N1 outbreak. Much like their film’s counterpart, the real-life CDC is having the same issue, trying to get the public to listen to facts, follow guidelines to slow the spread of the virus and to understand and fight back against COVID-19.


BS from Bureaucrats

In Contagion, Kate Winslet’s character sees firsthand how uncooperative members of Government are when it comes to trying to save lives out of fear of it interfering with the (local) economy. We see this all over the news now with COVID-19 how some lawmakers are ignoring what experts are saying as they’re more concerned with a slow economy rather than slowing the spread of the virus.





The Relatable Character

The one character most relatable to you the reader and me the writer is Matt Damon’s character. His character in Contagion is the average Joe who witnesses the growing unease around him as the virus spreads all the while trying to remain calm and reasonable in the face of it and at times he’s the voice of reason.



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Damon’s character in the film is Immune but struggles to ensure his daughter won’t get sick



Some of you who are reading this are either like Damon’s character who goes to the store and is in disbelief at how people are acting while at the same time concern about the wellbeing of your family, while some of you don’t realize that you’re the one’s that’s disheartening the others leading to…


Struggles with Social Distancing

Along with the storyline following Damon’s character are him and his surviving daughter going into self-quarantine and practicing Social Distancing. This act appears to take a toll on Anna Jacoby-Heron’s character as she and her boyfriend try to make contact in person with one another showing the lack of understanding by the two youths.

At the time of writing this, my home state of New York has been put on “Pause” for roughly 30 (40) + days, and it was not even a week when the self quarantining and Social Distancing started that people were ignoring the guidelines and it seems to be a troubling trend among younger (teens and adults) resulting in heavy fines being put in place for people having gatherings, and it’s not just New York State that’s having this problem, some places have only been in a type of lockdown for 20 or so days and people can’t handle it!



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If you have read up to this point and have not seen Contagion, I suggest you do watch it, it does have the Hollywood flare of any other disaster film but stays close to the realities situations that can come up during a pandemic but if you’re someone having difficulty during these times, you may want to pass over it as the similarities of it and what’s going on right now seems a little too close to home.

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