Arcade’s official guide to pandemic movies

Hannah May-Powers, Arcade Editor

movie poster with the caption "coming soon to streaming services: distance"
During uncertain times, pandemic movies have seen a rise in popularity. (Ashley Chen)

The days of being able to watch a pandemic movie without feeling existential are long gone. As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus, many are turning to different forms of escapism to cope with their boredom and anxiety. Well-known movies about pandemics such as “Contagion” (2011) and “World War Z” (2013) have experienced a boom in popularity in the U.S. beginning in March, when many states implemented stay-at-home orders.

Perhaps people feel drawn to these films because, unlike the current pandemic, movies often follow a predictable structure that allows audiences to experience the excitement inherent to this genre in a controlled environment. No matter the reason for watching, Arcade has put together a list of lesser known pandemic films to either watch or avoid while you are staying at home.

The Good

Virus (2019)

“Virus” (2019) is a dramatization of the 2018 Nipah Virus outbreak that occurred in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. In the face of potential loss of life and calamity, medical professionals work together to care for the sick as well as confront waves of misinformation caused by rising anxieties around the virus. All characters, from the doctors to the ambulance drivers, have rich backstories that allow the audience to see the crucial role that community plays in times of crisis. Though this film is sure to have taken some creative liberties for the sake of creating a more engaging plotline, it is fascinating to see what can happen when government officials and caretakers work together to create an environment that prioritizes well-being and public health over misguided private interests.

The Bad

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

What could go wrong if someone decided to add zombies to Jane Austen’s classic novel, “Pride and Prejudice?” Turns out, a lot. Based on the 2009 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith of the same name, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” fails to become something beyond a gimmicky piece of work. When the undead makes an appearance, it feels more like a pesky occurrence than something that is truly pivotal for the film. It is only when the living characters are the focal point that the storyline feels engaging and multidimensional. Overall, the filmmakers involved in the making of this film should have left it for dead.

The Severely Diseased

Cabin Fever (2016)

The remake that never should have been made, “Cabin Fever” (2016) is best left unwatched. The film, which is a near shot-for-shot remake of the 2002 original, tells the tale of a group of college students who make the mistake of renting out a desolate lake house for a weekend of drinking and partying. Along the way, a flesh-eating virus infects the group. Though gore is almost a prerequisite of portraying the detrimental effects of encountering a flesh-eating virus, the degree to which it is done in “Cabin Fever” is difficult to stomach for even the most seasoned fans of the horror genre. Instead of developing a meaningful plot separate from the original, it seems the writers and director instead focused on making the audience feel as squeamish as possible at every possible turn. I watched this monstrosity, so you do not have to.