The restrictions and pandemonium of the pandemic have deeply affected the film industry, but in the process have produced an interesting new subgenre.
Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected the lives of billions of people. He became the catalyst for major changes in various industries, and the film industry was no exception. Film productions have had to be halted or postponed, release dates have been changed, movie theaters have had to close or take immense precautions, and studios have had to adapt by embracing the power of online streaming services.
All this chaos has also spawned a new genre of film: COVID Cinema. It’s a whole subsection of films that place the pandemic as the basis of its story, or at the very least acknowledge its existence. These films are the result of filmmakers needing to express themselves during these times using all the resources at their disposal, and since it was almost impossible to go out and shoot a film in the traditional way, these films tell a more personal story. than conventional films. workshop picture.
The horror films of the COVID cinema
One of the first films to be released about the pandemic is a small independent British horror film from director Rob Savage titled Host. Dealing with themes of self-isolation and social anxiety, the film perfectly captured the essence of how it felt at the start of the pandemic. Host cleverly uses the video chat gimmick to its advantage, mimicking the contemporary situation where everyone had to resort to Zoom meetings for several months. The film has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of COVID Cinema’s masterpieces.
With the film’s critical and financial success, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood wanted in on this and in December 2020 we had the wreckage of a Michael Bay produced film, Songbird. Directed by Adam Mason, who was best known for directing music videos and some low-budget horror, Songbird was a film that exploited the gruesome nature of the pandemic in exchange for cheap scares in order to make a quick buck. The movie was panned by critics, earning just 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of the worst movies to come out of COVID Cinema (which is saying something, considering movies like Crown Zombies have been done). There’s no better proof than this list of Twitter deletions for the film.
Fortunately, it didn’t stay that way and the genre quickly rebounded with Ben Wheatley’s film, In the ground. After its premiere at Sundance in January 2021, the film was released in the United States in April of the same year to positive reviews. What’s most impressive about this movie is that it was written and directed by Wheatley in 15 days, and you’d have no way of knowing by the quality of its brilliant production. In the ground certainly delivers a series of good scares that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout its runtime.
The romantic films of the COVID cinema
Besides the dark and sinister, much of COVID cinema is, in fact, romantic comedies and romantic dramas with a lovely, light heart. These movies mostly follow a similar premise, where a couple who are in a failing relationship are forced to live together during lockdown. We see these types of claustrophobic couples in Locked (with Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor), The end of us (with Ben Coleman and Ali Vingiano), 7 days (with Karan Soni and Geraldine Viswanathan), and Together (with James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan). While that trope might seem rather repetitive, each of these films brings something unique to the table by either having an explosive third act, flawless dialogue, spectacular performances, or just that grounded, realistic flavor.
Love in the time of COVID
For those who want something with a bit more sparkle but still in familiar romantic territory, Sam Levinson’s Malcolm and Marie maybe just the movie. Although it does not address the pandemic in its narrative, the film was the first Hollywood feature film to be written, financed and produced during this time. Although receiving mixed reviews from critics, Lead actors Zendaya and John David Washington have been praised for their chemistry and performance, with the former earning a Best Actress nomination at the 26th Critics’ Choice Awards.
However, dig a little deeper into COVID Cinema’s romance movies and you’ll find a terrific romantic comedy about the Platonic relationship between a Spanish teacher and his student. Directed by actress Natalie Morales, Language course is quite similar in execution to Host, given that it’s told entirely through video chats. However, instead of having a group of people, this film only has two main characters (Morales and the charming actor-director Mark Duplass). It’s a fresh and inventive way to tell this beautiful story of blossoming friendship affection, and one that certainly shouldn’t be missed by anyone looking for something completely different from the usual romance movies (including movies aforementioned COVIDs).
COVID Cinema has been set in motion, and it will likely only continue to grow from here. It’s set to become the next cinematic trope in Hollywood if these films haven’t already proven it. It will be interesting to see the next phase of the genre if it continues to evolve with fresh and original ideas, as long as they don’t just rely on showing us the pandemic over and over again. There are only a limited number of ‘Quarantined Couples’ and ‘Zoom Room’ films, but with some interesting new directors using this global trauma in exciting ways, I hope the future of COVID doesn’t is only on screen.
Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham starrer Help, set in a Liverpool care home during the COVID-19 pandemic, arrives on Acorn TV.
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