‘Contagion’: An infectious thriller

“Contagion’s” story begins in darkness. A woman coughs before reaching into a bowl of snacks at an airport bar and a virus takes off.

The movie is being marketed as a shocking horror film when actually it’s quiet. The virus spreads quickly in a manner zombie movie fanatics would be proud of but there is no gore here and no shocking deaths. “Contagion” uses believability to keep the moviegoer enthralled.

“I thought it’d be really interesting to do a pandemic movie but one more rooted in reality,” said the film’s director Steven Soderberghin a recent interview with MoviesOnline.com.

The horror is in the reality, furthermore in the science. It preys on our greatest fears: germs, infection, disease, and an epidemic with no vaccine.

In a post-9/11 world filled with fears of things like SARS, whooping cough, and swine flu this is a reality we can believe in.

Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, and Laurence Fishburne are at the forefront of the story.

Paltrow plays Beth, a woman returning home after visiting Hong Kong. Upon arriving in the U.S., she falls ill with flu like symptoms. Her husband Mitch (Damon) agrees that it could just be jet lag. Soon, her symptoms worsen. Her vision grows blurry and she collapses and dies of a seizure. Mitch returns home to find his stepson has died of the same symptoms. The doctors do not have an exact reason for the illness but they do find that he might be immune.

The other actors are spread throughout the rest of the world. Fishburne and Winslet team up as doctors for the Center for DiseaseControl and Prevention, Law plays a blogger who is suspicious of pharmaceutical companies, and Cotillard plays an epidemiologist for the World Health Organization who travels to Hong Kong to trace the virus back to it’s origins.

The movie unravels through the different countries. People begin to fall ill everywhere and survivors begin to panic as they learn that there is no immediate cure. For many movies, it’s when humans are scared that their true ruthlessness and characters comes out. It becomes reality here as curfews are enforced and cities begin to shut down. The survivors begin to loot pharmacies and grocery stores, and turn on their neighbors. Without a cure, everyone goes mad.

The believability the film carries is ultimately it’s only highlight. The soundtrack is horrible. The cast, except for a select few is deemed pretty much useless. Their stories are linked together well, which is a triumph in an ensemble film like this but their time on screen is not long enough.

The reality of the film is what makes it worth watching. Too often, audiences are reduced to thrillers that only rely on fantasy when what filmmakers really fail to realize is that probability can be a scary tale in itself.


3 out of 5

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‘Contagion’: An infectious thriller