The pandemic has forced us all to stay at home so a lot of us are binging old favorites and discovering new gems. It seems like any decent titles are becoming harder and harder to find and we spend more time browsing than watching. That’s why The Channels editorial board has compiled a list of their favorite pandemic-themed movies and TV shows.
August Lawrence, Arts & Entertainment Editor
‘12 Monkeys’ – Terry Gilliam (1995)
In a not so distant future, the human race will be forced underground because of a deadly, unidentifiable airborne virus that ravished 98% of the world’s population. Humanity is forced to send agents back in time to try and find the terrorist organization known as the “Army of the 12 Monkeys,” and to stop the unknown pandemic from being released. Bruce Willis is selected to be sent back to 1990’s Philadelphia where he gets recruited by the 12 Monkeys and meets a psychiatric patient and the group’s founder/leader. Through political intrigue, manipulation by ancient societies and dealings with murder, Willis learns that not all is as it seems when it comes to his reality and to not trust anyone but himself when it comes to saving his own skin. The on-screen chemistry seeps through the screen and Terry Gilliam’s masterful direction has never been better. This neo-noir political thriller is guaranteed to keep any cinephile transfixed throughout.
Rodrigo Hernandez, News Editor
‘I Am Legend’ – Francis Lawrence (2007)
In a post-apocalyptic, run-down New York, a U.S. Army virologist named Robert Neville is the last man to survive after a re-created measles virus that was intended to cure cancer wipes out 90% of the planet. A small number of citizens are immune, but the rest of the 9.8% have turned into nocturnal, albino zombie-like creatures. Neville is only accompanied by his German Shepherd and a few mannequins that he regularly talks to. As the last man in New York, he attempts to find a vaccine in hopes of curing the mutant creatures. Even if the CGI effects on the zombie creatures aren’t the best, seeing the desolate landscape of Manhattan, along with Will Smith’s dual performance of both comedy and heartstring-pulling emotion, eerily draws the viewer in. Although Smith is best-known for comedy and action, he has shown his skills for drama acting, especially in the biographical dramas “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Concussion.”
Jacob Frank, Opinion Editor
‘World War Z’ – Marc Forster (2013)
This pandemic-themed thriller had me on the edge of my seat at times and curled up in a ball, peeking through my hands at others. Brad Pitt is the world’s only hope against a virus that turns the whole world into zombies; and not the slow type of limping zombies, these zombies are like Usain Bolt, Power Rangers zombies that stack on top of each other by the hundreds. I saw it in theaters with my dad back in 2013. I usually don’t like to watch end-of-the-world scary movies, but this was more of a thriller that I could tolerate. What had me in a ball was the jump scares and the zombies shrieking out from the dark corners of destroyed buildings. It’s more startling than scary, but if you’re into that then you’ll have a blast. It’s a good story with a captivating performance.
Alloy Zarate, Features Editor
‘Phanta’ – Le Tigre (1999)
This isn’t technically a film or a show, but it is in my brain. “Phanta” by Le Tigre is a song about a “group of hippies” who lockdown in the woods to wait out the apocalypse. A radio show I liked played this song during their apocalypse-themed episode at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when it felt like we were literally living through an apocalypse. I instantly had this song stuck in my head. I had mini dance parties with this song and even made my own music video for it. The song starts with an alarm-like sound that becomes the backing track of the song. It tells a narrative of the hippies being stalked by an unknown creature that doesn’t let them return to society. It’s not about a global pandemic, but before I knew anything about the virus, it felt like an unknown creature preventing me from leaving my home.
Ryan P. Cruz, Editor-in-Chief
‘Children of Men’ – Alfonso Cuarón (2006)
This movie paints a bleak picture of a future where human infertility suddenly spreads across the globe, and in the absence of any children or babies, the world teeters on the brink of collapse. The film’s protagonist is tapped to transport a refugee across Europe when a revolutionary group learns she may be the first pregnant woman on Earth in over two decades. The group’s odyssey to board a ship named “Tomorrow” is filled with violence, suspense, hope and some of the best one-shot sequences ever filmed. The car scene is a single take almost four minutes long where the camera does some movements that I thought were impossible. The story is dark but filled with optimism and faith, and the visuals are so immersive, you feel wrapped up in the dystopian world with the characters. Cuarón earned three Academy Award nominations with this film including best cinematography, and I would recommend this for anybody who wants to lockdown for a night and see both the best and worst of mankind.
Desiree Erdmann, Photo Editor
‘Quarantine’ – John Erick Dowdle (2008)
This found-footage film is not necessarily for everyone. The movie follows a reporter and her cameraman who go along with some firefighters to check out a distress call from an apartment building. The characters and the audience quickly find out that the call is not the average distress call. The situation turns out to be due to deadly mutated rabies that causes the victims to act in a way similar to an aggravated zombie. I have only ever watched it once, but it has stuck with me. You should give it a go if you want to watch something unforgettable.