Horror Movies About Pandemics

(Welcome to Now Scream This, a column where horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato tell you what scary, spooky, and spine-tingling movies are streaming and where you can watch them.)

Matt: So how y’all enjoying self isolation? It’s only been a week for me and I now own 2019’s Cats, so let’s just say the situation has escalated exponentially in Casa De Donato. Is Cats the most horrifying movie of the decade? How many people will I force this monstrosity upon? Why am I still talking about Cats? In any case, here are a few breakout/quarantine themed horror recommendations that might prevent you from losing your ever-loving mind like I have.

Chris: Today we are canceling the apocalypse! Just kidding – it’s still happening (I think? Who knows). But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some horror movies. And I don’t know about you, but all of this talk of viruses and quarantines actually puts me in the mood to watch movies about viruses and quarantines. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just sick in the head. But here we are. So kick-back at home with these picks! Side note: I can’t believe Matt didn’t include at least one Resident Evil movie on here.  

It Comes At Night

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: Trey Edward Shults takes a hack at isolation horror, in what you could argue was a before-its-time take on social distancing.  It Comes At Night’s approach to outbreak paranoia is the slowest of burns, similar to A Quiet Place in its middle-of-the-wilderness separation from civility. The likes of Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, and Kelvin Harrison Jr. navigate horrors from pandemic caution to unsolved break-in explanations. Might be a bit “talky” for some, not so much action. A certain breed of viewer will anoint brilliance while others will assume Shults misplaced half the introduction. If you like ‘em bleak and psychologically relentless? You’re in luck. Selective nightmare imagery is worth a banshee’s scream.

Chris: I know lots of people are down on this film (it got a D cinemascore rating!), but I think it’s fantastic. And depressing. 

Train To Busan

Now Streaming on Shudder

Matt: Zombie outbreaks are visually representative of diseases, except with flesh-munching zeds as an added bonus. In Train To Busan, the threat of spreading infections is commented on not only by the speed in which zombies sprint (how quickly viruses can overtake), but also close-proximity situations only making them worse. How *insanely* relevant as Americans are asked to socially distance yet continue to flood beaches thinking nothing wrong. Maybe watch Train To Busan and behold the effects of zombies flooding your commuter train? Infection takes a matter of minutes to contaminate a car’s worth of passengers, quicker than the common cold. A splendid lesson upon 2020 rewatches, in addition to being one of the best action-horror flicks over the last decade.

Chris: Zombie movies are pretty damn played-out, but Train to Busan proves you can still do new, exciting things with the concept. 

Carriers

Now Streaming on Netflix

Matt: In this house, we stan Carriers almost as much as we stan Chris Pine’s genre output. David and Àlex Pastor cut right to the heart of viral horror as survivors must stay healthy to stay alive. Nothing particularly flashy, but the pain of lifesaving choices and deathly consequences are depicted with the right amount of fearful sincerity. Everyone’s been rewatching Contagion these days, reminiscing on its expert outbreak cinematics, but movies like Carriers shouldn’t be lost within the shuffle. And, I mean, it’s even available on Netflix. Let’s get back to spreading the love when it comes to “rediscovering” titles now applicable thanks to current events?

Chris: I’ve never seen this, but I have seen Chris Pine. And let me tell ya: he’s dreamy. 

A Quiet Place

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Matt: If you need some social distancing tips, why not look to A Quiet Place? A family is forced to pass the time with minimal electricity and just themselves, only venturing into the world when completely necessary. They may be afraid of berserker alien creatures tearing them in two parts, but John Krasinski still commands a quarantine subplot despite invasion means. Still, to this day, I talk about the impact of sound design and use A Quiet Place as one of my shining recent examples. Even upon rewatches, those audible jolts showcase how horror films without (major) background scores can be such a more punishing beast.

Chris: A Quiet Place is such a tight film – there’s not an ounce of fat on this thing – and I can’t wait to see the sequel, if it ever actually comes out here in this terrifying world. 

The Stuff 

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime and Tubi

Matt: Consumerism in the face of doomsday outbreak – The Stuff holds nothing back. Marshmallow fluff fills the bodies of hungry addicts as those who fear the foreign substance’s possible danger do everything to stay away from ingestion. Not exactly a quarantine thriller, but any chance I get to mention Chocolate Chip Charlie (played by Garrett Morris) must be accepted as per my personal credo. Larry Cohen is on some Invasion Of The Body Snatchers meets The Blob recipe, hungry for the midnighter interpretation that ejects sloppy white foam from unhinged and inhuman mouths. It’s a trip, and shows the smarts of indie horror despite dissenters of the genre complaining it’s all just mindless gore and gruesomeness.

Chris: We as a society didn’t deserve Larry Cohen, but I’m so glad we were blessed with his presence and his weird, wild, low-budget movies. 

Continue Reading Now Scream This >>

Pages: 1 2Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web: