Fourteen Days of Viewing for Coronavirus Quarantine

You’ve been traveling to New York, you were partying at Mardi Gras, or you got a little too close to others wrestling for hand sanitizer at the Piggly Wiggly.  Now you are stuck at home for fourteen days of self-isolation (out of an abundance of caution) and you’d rather not spend your days watching news conferences. What would be a fitting list of viewing to pass the time?  Here’s fourteen days of thematic cinema that will reflect the times and educate you for the trying days to come.

Day One:  Contagion

This 2011 epidemiological thriller starring Lawrence Fishburne, Matt Damon, and a two-timing skank with a poor choice in Chinese restaurants (Gwenyth Paltrow), is a great introduction to the science of pandemics fitting for current events.  With an incorporated subplot featuring Jude Law as a huckster independent journalist pushing an untested homeopathic cure, you will almost feel compelled to rinse your mouth with bleach. Critics may suggest the popular 1995 movie, Outbreak (featuring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, and Cuba Golding, Jr.) a superior choice, but the science isn’t nearly as compelling.

Day Two:  Stephen King’s The Stand (Miniseries)

I watched the original 1994 miniseries while suffering from a fittingly nasty case of the flu so, if you are running a fever, you might want to delay this one to your final day of quarantine.  This three-episode series featuring an all-star cast and makes zombie movies look timid when envisioning the collapse of society after a biological weapons facility releases a nasty bug.  If you lie awake at night worrying about the collapse of government during a plague, this series will make you want to get your bug-out bag ready. M-O-O-N – that spells Tamiflu. 

Day Three:  Andromeda Strain

This 1971 thriller, based on the brilliant work of Michael Crichton, was ahead of its time in getting us to think about the safe handling and study of an unknown organism.  It paints a vision of an impossibly fanciful government that has prepared itself for a life-threatening plague, respects scientists, and has fail-safe mechanisms in place if things get out of control. 

Day Four:  The Last Man on Earth

Vincent Price’s 1964 take on the Richard Matheson book I Am Legend reveals a world in which a plague of unknown origin has killed nearly everyone on the planet, leaving behind a small population of vampiric humans afraid of daylight and garlic. 

Like it’s subsequent movie iterations Omega Man (Charlton Heston), I Am Legend (Will Smith), and White House Daily Briefing (Anthony Fauci) a lone epidemiologist with immunity struggles to stay one step ahead of the bloodsuckers while seeking a cure.  The Last Man on Earth is available to stream on Hulu

K. Michael Minch

Day Five:  World War Z

Brad Pitt’s 2013 performance interprets Max Brook’s book by the same title.  When a virus begins the world-wide spread of a zombie plague, Pitt’s character is dispatched to identify the source.  He faces a world in major civil distress, failed government attempts at quarantine, and unhealthy air travel options, before finding a solution to save the world. World War Z is available to stream on Hulu.

Day Six:  Twelve Monkeys

Featuring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, this dark 1995 film depicts one man’s attempt to return to the past in order to find the source of a devastating infection released by domestic bioterrorists.  In this film, 5G cellular networks hadn’t been invented yet LOL. That is the real nightmare. Twelve Monkeys is available to stream on Hulu.

Day Seven:  Dawn of the Dead

The 1978 George Romero classic is a zombie film buff’s favorite, providing one of the genre’s earliest depictions of how bad people can behave when society’s bonds begin to crumble.  Protected by a shopping mall, the film’s protagonists have everything they need – even toilet paper – until they don’t

Day Eight:  28 Days Later

Prince Charles has COVID-19.  So does Boris Johnson. It’s only fitting that a UK-based film about a zombie plague make the list.  This 2003 Danny Boyle movie proves that even four weeks of social distancing doesn’t quite kick a bug. 28 Days Later is available to stream on Hulu.

Day Nine:  Pontypool

If by Day Nine you haven’t figured out that words are doing as much damage as the Coronavirus, this 2009 film about a language-driven plague will have you feeling sick the next time you watch Fox News or listen to rural Canadian radio.

Day Ten:  The Day After

True, this 1983 ABC made-for-TV movie is about the aftermath of a nuclear war and not a contagion.  Yet, as citizens of Lawrence, Kansas, and southwest Missouri attempt to survive the apocalypse the viewing experience is reminiscent of how the Kansas fans felt after the NCAA basketball tournament was canceled and how Missourians feel with a vacuum of political leadership amidst a crisis. Stream The Day After on Amazon Prime.

Day Eleven:  Escape From New York

Imagine a world in which New York is quarantined by a bumbling, fascist president.  Then imagine a world where Kurt Russell has to save that president from starving, angry people living in anarchy within an isolated city left to fend for itself.  Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Stream Escape From New York as part of your Shudder subscription. Get your free 30-day trial by entering the promo code Signal in the box.

Day Twelve:  Groundhog Day

Bill Murray plays a journalist forced to endure the same day over and over again in this 1993 Harold Ramis film.  Not a disaster film, you say? Put yourself into the shoes of a member of the White House Press Corp. Its not horror but pretty close. You can catch this comedy classic right now on Netflix.

Day Thirteen:  Iron Sky

This 2012 Finnish-German-Australian farce portrays an invasion of earth by Nazis who have been living on the dark side of the moon and are ignorant of present-day earth.  The populist President of the United States becomes more concerned with her reelection than the dire threat posed by a plague of space-born shock troopers.   Iron Sky is available on Tubi for free. Nothing is better than free, except maybe being able to leave the house.

Day Fourteen:  Idiocracy

A fitting end to your isolation, this prescient 2006 Mike Judge film features Luke Wilson, Mya Rudolph, and Dax Shepard as they try to save what remains of the United States from years of mismanagement by its leaders including a President whose fame is fueled by mass rallies that resemble reality television.

It’s the end of isolation.  You’ve survived! Now go out and see if the toilet paper has returned to the store!

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