Horror movies have always been a pastime of choice for many during the Halloween season, but with the current pandemic, some movies might be hitting a little too close to home.
With the new influx of pandemic/outbreak movies coming to streaming services, people are able to see a fictionalized portrayal of their own current lives.
One of the most common types of outbreak movies are the classic zombie films. “WWZ,” “#Alive” and “Train to Busan” are three prime examples of zombie outbreak films that make great work of portraying a dramatized version of the panics that comes with living with a world wide viral infection. “Outbreak” on the other hand shows a true pandemic as a result of disease.
“WWZ”, better known as” World War Z” is a movie that surfaced in 2013 featuring renowned actor Brad Pitt. The film takes on the classic trope of cannibalistic zombies while also staying unique in the fact that the zombies showcased aren’t the slow paced stumbling creatures we are used to. The infected people of the movie get around by moving at inhuman speeds, their ability to run, jump and climb having been enhanced by the virus they are infected with, despite them maintaining very childlike brain functions.
This concept is not something usually touched upon in most zombie movies, but with its portrayal it brings new fears. Zombies that can move as fast if not faster than unaffected peoples are a scary thought, and it is realized early on in the film that if the zombies can hear a person,, they can get to them faster than they can get away.
“I’m sure that I’d be scared if the apocalypse came upon us, but if it was really the end of mankind as we know it, I would probably just try to appreciate the time I have left and do all the things I haven’t had a chance to. Strangely enough, I think it’s less scary knowing it’s the end of the world and everyone’s going to be wiped out soon. Compared to everyday life where you almost always have no idea when, how, or where you’re going to die,” junior Izzy Gunning said.
Fear was the main drive that kept many of the characters in the film alive. Apprehension of what could happen next and precise planning was essential for survival.
About whether or not he’d be fearful in an apocalypse/zombie outbreak, 2019 graduate Emerald Habecker said, “Would I be fearful in an apocalypse? For sure. If you’re not scared you definitely wouldn’t survive for long.”
Another zombie movie that portrays different aspects of pandemics as accurately as fiction knows how is the award winning 2016 film “Train to Busan,” directed by Yeon Sang- Ho. This intense, heart wrenching, beautifully made film stars a busy divorced father, Seok- Woo (Gong Yoo) and his young daughter Soo- an (Kim Soo- Ahn), fighting for their lives aboard a train traveling to the girls mothers town.
While it is true our pandemic does not exactly feature gaggles of aggressive brain hungry zombies around every corner, there are some similarities. The film depicts a type of zombie where the turn from human to zombie is quite subtle, and could take a little while to notice. Trust was a very big factor the passengers had to have. In one of the films most anxiety inducing scenes, we see Seok-Woo pounding on the door into a cart of the train, begging to be let inside as a hoard of zombies are closing in on him. The passengers in the cart are anxious to let him in, as there is no way to be sure if he was exposed to the bite or not.
There is much of this emphasis on trust issues in these current times of Covid-19, living in a world where there is no way to tell if the person one is hanging out with is safe to be around. Junior Jenna Clark battles with this very feeling.
“ I also have to trust so many people that they are doing the right thing to be safe so I don’t get sick. I play basketball and as a team we all have to trust each other that we have been safe and it is a priority that we wear masks and do everything we can to not get the virus and spread it so we can play,” Clark said via text message.
Another well reflected theme of living during Covid-19 that “Train to Busan” portrays is the theme of being so far removed from family. The whole reason Seok-Woo and his daughter are aboard the train is to visit Soo-an’s mother, but seeing as how their route is disturbed by the zombies, that goal is altered. Throughout the movie, Seok-Woo is seen attempting to call his elderly mother and his child’s mother, stressed because he is unable to reach them. This separation from family is something that many have experienced during the current pandemic.
“There are so many friends and family members that I have not seen in so long because of the virus,” Clark said.
Additionally, the elderly are in general more prone to disease, something reflected in the film through Woo’s anxieties regarding his mother. This concern is seen very much today, with children anxious on how the virus will affect their grandparents or even parents.
“My grandma was just recently diagnosed with cancer AND diabetes, which is hard to tackle with Covid in the equation. . . if my grandma gets Covid, not even a miracle could save her, so it absolutely terrifies me,” senior Nate Hutson said via direct message.
Although “#Alive” is the third zombie movie on this list, it still manages to be entirely unique. Following an abrupt and sudden zombie outbreak, “#Alive” contains a great portrayal of the way teens would react to situations of pandemics. The 2020 drama directed by II Cho accurately portrays the more mental aspect of living in an outbreak. The film follows the laid back young Oh Joon- Wo. Throughout the film, Woo is seen using social media and gaming as a sort of way for him to distress, something that many teens have found themselves doing during this pandemic.
“I find that, not only me but so many others, have spent a lot of time attempting to occupy our time in ways such as social media (TikTok in particular). . . or taking on a new hobby (like baking bread, playing the guitar, painting, etc.),” Gardner said.
Woo is also seen battling with feelings of intense loneliness and depression during his isolation, which is something very relatable to many living during the pandemic. Junior Seneca Mahan finds that being under lockdown can be a very lonely thing.
“Honestly the entire thing has [been stressful], the loss of contact then the pressure of school has been crushing my mental health and has led to a lot of over thinking,” Mahan said.
Throughout this film, we see Woo repeating the same routine every day, never really straying from it. This monotonous way of living is something all too familiar to Gunning.
““The days and weeks just seem to blend together when you’re constantly at home. I lose track of reality a lot. It’s hard to get pretty much anything done anymore. I find myself having virtually no motivation or effort to put out into the world,” Gunning said.
“Yeah the pandemic has been scary. In March the number of deaths in Italy was scary. The ineptitude of our government is scary. People I care about don’t have health insurance and that’s scary. It looks like there’s an upward trend again and it’s scary to think how long this will keep going on. A**hole* who don’t wear masks properly are scary— I get claustrophobic when there’s a lot of people around. I went to the zoo on Sunday and there was a point in the reptile house where a bunch of people crowded into where I was and half weren’t wearing masks correctly,” Habecker said.
While the current pandemic has not yet become something worthy of a future horror movie title, the fear and unease of U.S. citizens will not be put to rest unless direct action is taken. The past year has looked too much like the beginnings of a bad apocalyptic horror movie to those currently living.
“I do feel like I’m in a horror movie in the sense that the plot makes no sense and I have no idea what will happen next,” Habecker said.
Wolfgang Peterson’s 1995 movie “Outbreak” features a genuine pandemic and documents the chaos that breaks out across America upon the discovery of an infectious disease that spreads almost as rapidly as it kills. With stunning performances from a star-filled cast featuring names such as Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland and Rene Russo, “Outbreak” is sure to make any moviegoer squirm in their seat.
While the movie is incredibly dramatic and action packed for the sake of Hollywood entertainment, some truth can be seen within the actions of the fictional government’s response to the discovery of this fatal disease.
Early in the film, upon the initial discovery or the virus, all the government officials were warned and advised by certified medical personnel how deadly the strain truly was, yet chose to ignore this. There are certainly some similarities between this and the U.S government’s response to the discovery of Covid-19. Many people speculate that the government did not treat the virus seriously enough, and as a result the outcome was much more severe than it needed to be.
“As a person I feel [ the government has] failed to provide correct information to the public. They’ve turned a pandemic into a political stance when it’s not,” Virginia teen Zach Laughlin said.
Webster alumni Tea Gardner also said the way the U.S government addressed the pandemic shared the same ignorance found within a fictional dramatized movie government.
“I find the way that this government handled the virus was incredibly neglectful and embarrassingly clumsy… the disbanding of a already set pandemic task force to another less prepared task force, defunding the CDC, and not locking down the country at the expense of 200,000 people’s lives is despicable,” Gardner said via direct message.
One Webster University student, Rex Hale Jr. said the government did not do nearly enough in preparation. “The government handled it very very very poorly. In all honesty Trump’s administration should have gotten on this quicker but due to ignorance and the government we are now where we are in the pandemic. We are the slowest recovering country there is,” Hale said.
In addition to failing to properly protect against the virus, it is revealed early on in the film that intel had already known about the dangers and severity of the situation but still chose to do nothing, much like the U.S. government.
“They [The government] were aware of the virus before announcing it for well over a month due to the first case being back in December of 2019,” Laughlin said.
This is Zeke La Mantia’s second year on with Echo publications. He has earned multiple awards for his photographic contributions.
This is senior Jaden Fields’ second year working with Echo publications, but she took journalism the year prior to joining. She works as both the Editor in chief as well as the Sports Columnist.
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