When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and spread around the world, all cinemas were closed. The new film didn’t hit theaters, but there was a 2011 movie that was suddenly dug up and hit record numbers in just a few months.
We are talking about Contagion (Infectious Disease) directed by Steven Soderbergh. In Warner Bros’s most-watched movie list, it jumped from 270 to No. 2 in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contagion was searched the most on Google on March 11, after President Donald Trump issued a ban on Americans traveling to Europe. And only 3 days later, the number of searches once again peaked when the same ban was imposed in the UK.
The revival of nearly a decade-old film impressed Coltan Scrivner, a graduate from the University of Chicago specializing in Psychological Effect. “Morbid curiosity“, also known as pathological curiosity.
Morbid curiosity is an aspect of curiosity, focusing on objects related to violence, death or any event that is likely to cause physical or mental harm, in this case a pandemic.
It is the psychological effect that makes people suddenly want to watch Contagion while there is a real pandemic going on out there. And are you also looking for movies, TV shows, novels and many other works related to the topic of pandemics including: viruses, epidemics, isolation, blockade, loneliness and fear…?
Scrivner did an online survey to find out about this Morbid curiosity effect, and wrote a decent scientific study on it in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture to answer the question: Why are people Want to watch pandemic movies again during a pandemic?
His theory is that he acts “Pathological curiosity“is an evolutionary reaction mechanism that helps people deal with threats by learning and practicing against situations that can arise from imaginary experience.
In other words, people are reviewing Contagion and the Outbreak in 1995 not just because they want to be entertained. Deep inside, we want to know how we need to cope with a pandemic.
The Scrivner hypothesis is similar to that of Mathias Clasen, the author of the book “Why Horror Seduces“, who specializes in the study of human reactions to books, movies, video games and horror, these types of entertainment captivate our curiosity.
In Clasen’s core hypothesis, thriller exploits the system of evolutionary fear of humans. We want to experience fear in controlled situations like a movie to learn how to face it in a safe environment.
A horror movie can scare you, but it doesn’t really harm you. That controlled fear will help you challenge your limits, practice coping mechanisms, and learn to better manage your fear.
The same may be true for the Morbid curiosity effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his research, Scrivner has put together a scale to investigate people’s interest and curiosity with film and television programs during this period.
He discovered that most people focus on four topics: violence, supernatural danger, physical-related horror (pandemics), and mind-related, a characteristic of the body. kind of crime psychology movie.
A total of 126 volunteers participated in the Scrivner survey to answer questions about their level of interest in corona viruses and six different types of movies and TV shows: horror / supernatural, mystery / thriller, pandemic / virus, romance, action / adventure, and comedy.
While comedies and romances are of little interest during the COVID-19 pandemic, action-thriller, supernatural thriller, thrilling mystery and especially viruses and pandemics have been widely watched. than.
Analyzing these results, Scrivner found that people with a stronger Morbid curiosity mentality not only looked for pandemic films at the moment, but also films and TV shows in their Horror / supernatural and mystery / thriller genres.
He said this was only an initial finding, and in the next few months, he intends to work with Clasen to design further in-depth surveys, promising more results on the effect. Psychology of people in pandemics.
Around that time, Arstechnica asked Scrivner a list of the top 10 movies to watch during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have seen some of these movies, but it may be movies you’ve never heard of.
These films are divided into 5 small groups, each of which represents 2 movies for topics: pandemic, laboratory / zombie accident, blockade, outdoor fear and humorous relief:
1. Contagion (Infectious Disease)
Contagion is related to a fictional respiratory virus (originating from China) similar to the influenza virus but much more contagious and dangerous. In the world of film, the virus has spread rapidly from city to city, prompting governments to finally resort to quarantine blockade.
The outbreak of the disease caused the whole society to collapse, the rules were broken by the fear that entailed hatred, looting and violence. Contagion has been praised for its scientific accuracy, both in describing the virus, how it spreads and the race to develop vaccines against pandemics.
The film tells the reappearance of a deadly virus called Motaba, 28 years after it was first discovered in Africa. The virus infects American soldiers stationed in a forest, and the US Army destroyed the barracks to hide evidence of the outbreak that year.
This came as a surprise when the virus returned, attacking a fictional town in Cedar Creek, California. The army declared martial law in the town as scientists rushed to develop a cure.
Laboratory / zombie accident theme
3. 28 Days Later (28 days later) and 28 Weeks Later (28 weeks later)
The first series in 2002 marked the revival of the zombie genre in the 21st century. 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later tell about a highly contagious virus. It was accidentally released in a laboratory in Cambridge, England.
Those infected with this virus are turned into violent, emotionless zombies and attack anyone they find. The virus is transmitted through bites, scratches, or even a drop of blood splashes into the mouth.
A bicycle mailman woke up after a 28-day coma and saw the entire city of London turned into ruins after the outbreak. It took him some time to understand what was going on and join a group of people trying to run away in a crisis.
4. Resident Evil (The Land of Demons)
The film is about a young woman with amnesia who later joins a commando group to stop the deadly outbreak of “T-virus “, a fictional pathogen that also turns those infected with it into zombies.
The commando team was responsible for breaking into Hive, the organization that created the T-virus to shut down their supercomputer, before the virus could invade the entire Earth. After achieving unexpected success, Resident Evil was further developed into an equally popular game in the early 2000s.
Subject of isolation, blockade
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Basement)
The story takes place in rural Louisiana, where a young woman wakes up after a car accident and finds herself in an underground bunker with two men. They told her that it was currently not safe on the ground, because the air outside was filled with radiation.
Maybe a nuclear or chemical attack destroyed the whole Earth. The three strangers live in an underground bunker to escape from danger, but the problem is that they do not fully trust each other and do not know what is the threat both outside and inside the bunker?
6. Containment (Isolation)
When waking up in an apartment in Southampton in the morning, the residents found that they were cordoned off in their homes, without electricity, without running water and no way to communicate with the outside world. .
The only people they can see are the people wearing full protective clothing who are going through a window outside their home. These people say they should stay calm and stay indoors.
The film depicts the psychology of isolated people, who are frantically trying to free themselves. Fear triggers panic attacks, violence and irrational action.
Outdoor threat topic
7. It Comes at Night (It Comes at Night)
Continuing to be a script that tells about a strain of virus spread around the world. Two families hide in a house deep in the forest to make sure they are safe. They try to exploit all resources to survive through difficult times.
An established principle: the only entrance to the house must be locked and only one man has the key. Only when night falls, can they go outside. The film provides an invisible fear similar to our present moment.
People are not unable to get out, they are only afraid to go out because of facing the danger out there.
8. The last days (The last days)
The Spanish film, originally named Los Últimos Días, is set in Barcelona when the city is ravaged by a mysterious catastrophic event. Survivors crawl into apartment buildings to survive, and they have to dig tunnels to move from building to building to find food and supplies.
Humorous relief theme
9. Shaun of the Dead (Among the swarms of undead)
Shaun is a London salesman who has no goals in life and is always disrespectful to his colleagues. He did not get along with his stepfather Philip, and was broken up by his friend Liz. Heartbroken, Shaun drank grief with his best friend, Ed, at their favorite pub, Winchester.
The couple lived together in an apartment, and one day woke up, they suddenly found people in the city behaving strangely. In fact, Shaun and Ed didn’t know they were all turned into cannibal zombies until they witnessed two zombies in their yard.
Later, Shaun and Ed killed them with shovels and cricket sticks. The two devise a plan to rescue Liz and Shaun’s mother, Barbara, and go to Winchester and wait until the pandemic ends.
10. Mayhem (Hysterical Virus)
Mayhem first made a splash at the SXSW film festival in 2017. It tells about a virus strain “red eyes“very easily spread around the world. Although this virus is not lethal and does not turn people into zombies, it causes infected people to act on the darkest instincts.
The virus has shut down the functions in the prefrontal cortex of the infected person, making them almost no longer governed by common morality and morality.