Living out reel fear
When times are tough, fear spreads to the big screen.
IS it really a big surprise to discover that while America is enduring its worst economic downturn in 70 years and experiencing a paroxysm of partisan political infighting that the No.1 movie in one recent weekend was Contagion, which depicts a planet overwhelmed by a mysterious virus threatening the lives of millions?
When people are beset by anxiety, they often turn to movies that allow them a vicarious release. As the crafty marketers at Warner Bros put it on their movie poster: “Nothing Spreads Like Fear.”
It is probably no coincidence that these times of economic gloom and doom have also spawned a wave of alien invader films, including such hits as District 9, Battle: Los Angeles and Super 8. There is more to come, with a remake of The Thing arriving in theatres next month in the United States.
Of course, it’s easy to shrug off an alien invasion as a popcorn fantasy. What makes Contagion so potent is its knockout punch of plausibility – the movie’s story is so deeply rooted in actual scientific research that screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who began writing the movie several years ago, held off finishing the script until he could follow the outcome of the 2009 swine flu epidemic.
What I found most intriguing about the Steven Soderbergh