By Mark Cox
Did you hear the news? People who watch horror and dystopian movies appear to be more psychologically resilient to the pandemic. With that in mind, RED reached out to horror-movie expert Eneri “Netty” Rodriguez, associate director of the Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy at Metropolitan State University of Denver, for her five contagious classics.
Netty Rodriguez: This fiendishly inventive found-footage film, filmed entirely on Zoom, centers on a group of British friends who decide to host an online séance during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s only 56 minutes long and so up to date that it features an actual elbow bump. But what makes “Host” so unbelievably terrifying is how it channels our shared firsthand experience of pandemic life. You’re left feeling that this could really happen to you.
Netty Rodriguez: When a small Pennsylvania town is accidentally struck by a biological weapon that causes permanent insanity, its law-abiding residents are transformed into a murderous horde. Enter an army of faceless soldiers in hazmat suits and gas masks, ready for a grisly showdown. Director George Romero, godfather of the zombie genre, cleverly weaves his trademark social commentary into the blood and mayhem here. I rewatched it when we first went into lockdown, and it couldn’t be more on-brand for this ridiculous year.
Netty Rodriguez: This South Korean zombie flick is a refreshing take on a genre that’s too often full of tired tropes and predictable outcomes. A businessman and his daughter board the eponymous train to escape just as an undead epidemic starts ravaging the country – but guess who’s also slipped on board?
Combining elements of the zombie, action and outbreak genres, the movie is breathlessly entertaining and also delivers a warm, human story amid all the gore. Ironically, the planned release of a sequel this year has been delayed due to our real-life viral outbreak. Talk about life imitating art.
Netty Rodriguez: A classic from the father of body horror, David Cronenberg. Following an experimental surgical procedure, a young woman discovers a taste for human blood and a weird growth under her arm from which a phallic red stinger emerges to pierce unwitting victims. Naturally, her infected victims also become bloodthirsty and highly contagious monsters. This is a brutal parasitic treat, not for the faint of heart.
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Netty Rodriguez: This contemporary medical thriller and fictional documentary is based on the actual Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, India, which happened two years ago. A suspenseful emotional rollercoaster, it shows how a group of brave people – including medical professionals, health officials and residents – banded together to overcome the deadly disease. In truth, it can feel a little too close to home in 2020. But it really captures the power of community and also acts as a kind of homage to the real-life workers during this outbreak. It’s certainly worth a watch.
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