Not exactly of the horror genre, Contagion is still a very scary movie. My sister and I watched it recently. Billed as a drama/thriller, it is spot-on in depicting how an epidemic could spread throughout the world, killing hundreds of thousands in its wake. Steven Soderbergh directed Contagion, released in 2011. It is rated PG-13 for disturbing content and some language.
Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns from a business trip in Hong Kong to Minneapolis, her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and her young son, and falls ill with flu-like symptoms. She dies fairly quickly, and then others around the country and world also grow sick and die. The film is clever in that it begins on Day 2 and then shows others around the planet succumbing to the same illness as each day passes, which eventually brings the illness to the awareness of health organizations. But why? Why are so many people dying? And why does Beth’s husband Mitch not become sick and die? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other international organizations scramble to curb the epidemic and to find a vaccine to combat it. But it is really difficult work.
Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) is a hard-working staff member at the CDC taking risks to help others and investigate the spread of the virus. Her boss, Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) cautions her to watch her step so she does not also become ill. Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) is employed by the World Health Organization and is seeking clues to the spread of the disease in parallel to the CDC’s efforts.
Meanwhile, the population is grieving as death is everywhere. Fear is rampant, helped along by bloggers like Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law), who reports on the development of a vaccine. Mitch has his hands full with his daughter Jory (Anna Jacoby-Heron), keeping her safe, as it is hard for a teenager to spend days and days at home away from her friends. How did this virus begin? And how does it spread? You will have to come along on the journey as the connections are revealed.
I will say that after watching this film, I am more cautious than ever about washing my hands, not touching my face, etc. It will scare you into taking these actions preached by health care professionals and your mom seriously. Exacerbating my sudden paranoia was my coincidently beginning to read Stephen King’s The Stand, the complete and uncut edition he published in 1990.
I had never read it before and it is a truly chilling tale, making Contagion look tame in comparison. The Stand deals with an epidemic of huge proportions when the U.S. government accidentally releases a deadly virus. It is really ghastly what can happen when disease spreads unchecked.
In the end, yes, I recommend you watch Contagion. The story is well written, directed and believable. The actors will have your sympathy for their plight. Just remember: Wash your hands. And quit touching your face.