Assuming you’re not blind, deaf and dumb, you will have heard of the coronavirus. Not only that, but you will have struggled to avoid it, starting with the odd hint of a problem on the news, advancing to being something you need to be wary of, and now reaching a point where you’re stuck in your home for an unknown period of time.
You may have considered getting out of the house for a bit by spending a few hours in the pub, the cinema or literally anywhere else, but a couple of days after the announcement that advised everyone to stay indoors, the powers that be suggested that any non-residential areas should be closed before enforcing that they are without room for compromise. This will have left you – and everyone else – stuck in your home until god-knows-when, but you could always pass the time by getting more into the spirit of a fully-fledged apocalypse by watching these films that are closely related to the current climate we find ourselves forcibly stuck in.
The perfect coronavirus movie marathon
Apocalyptic films are, in my opinion, one of the greatest genres in circulation. This isn’t solely due to the morbid science fiction which comes hand-in-hand, but also the fact that many of these films are also, in fact, zombie films. I’m an obsessive zombie movie fan, ranging from the films of the great – and sadly late – George A Romero, to the somewhat ambitious but mostly disappointing modern attempts at the genre. However, although zombies are likely to appear in this list, they won’t dominate, as the main point of it is to look at the end of the world rather than zombies alone.
As another novelty side to this already peculiar setup, the films will be listed in order of when you may see them reflected in the real world during the apocalypse. To kick us off, we start with the least frightening phase and the stage we’re currently enduring – a virus breaking out and the world’s greatest minds trying to find a solution:
If you enjoy seeing A list Hollywood actors frantically attempting to find a cure to an absolutely ruthless virus before dying in a devastatingly quick and painful manner, Contagion is the perfect film for you. It follows the outbreak of a virus and the people responsible for finding a way to stop it, making it into a version of The Thick Of It (or In The Loop) where you imagine every single character dying at some point over the course of ninety minutes. While you may think it could be similar to other films that put a real-life spin on what would previously be seen as a thriller or even horror, the urgency of how quickly the virus spreads and begins to kill its victims is admittedly terrifying.
One of the most unnerving things about Contagion is that it starts out in a realistic manner, but in the real world, the outcome would be very different and a vaccine for the virus would be found before much panic was caused. We’ve seen how much things can escalate from films like Contagion, and it’s only made it more worrying that the coronavirus pandemic has worsened to a similar extent. Of course, Contagion sees a flu-like virus that kills its victims almost instantly, differing from the coronavirus, but it’s certainly not the sort of film you want to see right now.
World War Z (2013)
Following the behind-the-scenes look at how the virus came to be and how the experts were incapable of stopping it, we move into damage limitation and how hiring a government representative to find patient zero in a hectic fight against time could halt any more devastation. In this example, our representative is Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt) who spends the entirety of World War Z venturing across the globe from case to case as a quick-acting virus turns the earth’s population into babbling, ferocious monsters that even Boris Johnson would be unfamiliar with.
Directed by Marc Forster, who’s best known as the man responsible for 007 train wreck Quantum of Solace, World War Z had a mixed reception, but I was one of very few viewers to enjoy it. Despite being as heroic and valiant as any Brad Pitt character, Gerry Lane struggles to stay alive throughout the film, narrowly surviving ambushes throughout the world and barely walking away from a plane crash. The film results in a surprisingly clever ending where he realises that those infected with the virus wouldn’t attack someone that they saw as being weak or already in the midst of another serious condition. To test this, Lane makes himself ill with a reversible condition and walks through hordes of zombies, where he’s ignored by them all, demonstrating that all survivors must be infected with something to avoid joining the undead. Maybe BoJo was right about horde immunity after all, eh?
28 Days Later (2002)
Despite Lane’s efforts to stop the virus, we’re left with no choice but to assume that he was completely wrong, and that the heroic moment where he walked through hordes of zombies actually resulted in poor Brad Pitt being torn to shreds. If you were fortunate enough to miss all of the build up to coronavirus reaching fever pitch – which we haven’t yet seen in the UK or the entire American continent – 28 Days Later is for you. The film starts after all the warnings, precautions and governmental actions came into play, where a half naked Cillian Murphy rises from his hospital bed following a coma, leading him to walk into the deserted streets of London. Walking through any part of your local town or city will result in a similar outcome, as the closure of all pubs, restaurants and communal areas has left the planet looking like we all buggered off at the first sign of danger.
If the first ever rendition of running zombies wasn’t already scary enough, our UK readers will also find it deeply distressing to see that the film is based in England, starting in London and moving to Manchester just to be on the safe side. During Cillian Murphy’s journey across the country, he’s joined by an extremely angry Naomie Harris, a rough and ready Brendan Gleeson and Gleeson’s unsurprisingly dense daughter. Similarly to World War Z, the virus itself spreads so quick that you’re given no time to think or prepare for the zombies that are about to pounce on you, making it all the more threatening. When Murphy and co finally reach Manchester, they’re met by an unconvincingly posh Christopher Eccleston, and the film ends with a feeling of uneasiness and dread as the survivors stand on the top of a building in hope that they were spotted by the plane that just flew past them.
The Road (2009)
As the end of the world begins to look completely confirmed and unlikely to change any time soon, we move into the possibly even bleaker world depicted in The Road, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. The film surrounds Viggo Mortensen navigating the wastelands we once called earth with his young son, who he clings onto throughout the film with hope of saving him from other survivors. If things weren’t bad enough with the world coming to an indefinite standstill, many of the survivors have been driven to cannibalism due to the lack of food. I’m not justifying cannibalism, but then again, if I have to put that in writing, I should really question what sort of person you think I am.
Between Mortensen battling with fellow-survivors to save his child from being ripped apart for sustenance and visions of full families hanging from trees in group suicides, the film is far from pleasant. It makes Schindler’s List look as bright as Spongebob Squarepants: The Movie, The Exorcist sound as jolly as La La Land and My Sister’s Keeper seem as joyful as The Boss Baby.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
At the final stop on our tour of the apocalypse, we reach what can only be described as ‘what’s left’. In this view of the world, there is nothing but desert, and every living person acts like a caveman. To add insult to injury, poor Tom Hardy is being pushed from pillar to post, mocked by everyone he comes across, almost dies in every scene, and if it weren’t for his whit and surprisingly competent attempt at physical comedy, Mad Max: Fury Road would be nothing more than draining.
Eventually, Tom Hardy’s character is able to find help with ending the death race he’s been dragged into and dispensing of its racers through the help of Charlize Theron and a car full of people that seriously need their help. Unlike other remakes, this film isn’t ruined by an up and coming director stomping on its source material because George Miller – director of Mad Max, Mad Max 2 and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – returned to direct Fury Road, making it more of an attempt to present his vision with the latest technology than an unnecessary cash grab. Although post-apocalyptic films are certainly not known for their lighthearted nature, Mad Max: Fury Road is an example of how the end of the world could be, and that maybe it won’t actually be that bad.
Coping with the reality of COVID-19 through film
Now, I can’t guarantee that wallowing in absolute misery during a genuine global crisis is for everyone, but it’s certainly helped me. You may watch these films and feel worse about your situation, or it could greatly benefit you in ways you may not have considered, either through proving that worse outcomes are possible, or by allowing you to embrace our doomed fate.
In the spirit of the Unbearable Geoff website, we will continue to deliver content to our audience – and any new followers along the way – until the zombies break through the barrier, the air becomes toxic, and President Trump presses his big red button to bring this disappointing civilisation and the ground we’ve all poisoned to smithereens.