‘Contagion’ hits home amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 has brought pandemic movies to the top of all steaming services. Netflix now displays a “top 10” category, with many movies in it dealing with outbreaks, pandemics and zombie apocalypses.

With Texas’ new stay-in-place order many of us are finding ourselves binge watching movies and TV shows. Pop the popcorn, grab some M&M’s, crack open an ice-cold cola and get comfy because we’re reviewing pandemic movies with a hint of spoilers, starting with my all-time favorite, “Contagion.”

“Contagion” plays close to COVID-19. The virus is transmitted from human to human when the sick touch surfaces, leaving the virus exposed for others to catch. The frantic health department as well as other public health officials panic and rush to identify and contain the disease. Sound familiar?

Now here comes the spoiler. The fictional virus’ origins in the movie, known as the “MEV-1,” originated from a pig. In the final scene in the movie, viewers learn that the pig ate a piece of a banana that was dropped by an infected bat that escaped the destruction of its palm tree habitat in China. That pig was then taken to a slaughterhouse and prepared by a chef, who fails to wash his hands and shakes hands with Beth Emhoff (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), beginning the first positive case of MEV-1.

The symptoms of the fictional MEV1 include fevers and profuse sweating, pounding headaches, sore throats, coughing, seizure, dizziness and frothing at the mouth when passed out. The symptoms aren’t too far off from the COVID-19 virus, minus the seizures, dizziness and foaming at the mouth.

Suddenly “Contagion” has gone from an enjoyable and suspenseful thriller, to an eerie and unsettling thriller that hit too close to home. Viewers will find the similarities between MEV-1 and COVID-19 scary.

“Contagion” is beautifully crafted. While some right now might find the film to give a sense of realism, the film does an incredible job of keeping viewers on the edge of their seat. The script is wonderfully written, and I love the idea of beginning the story on Day 2, leaving the rest of the film to the suspenseful realization of how the virus came to be on Day 1.

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