Hitting theaters this weekend is an all-new infection thriller, It Comes at Night, from writer/director Trey Edward Shults and starring Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, and Carmen Ejogo.
The story focuses on a family who, to avoid some terrifying virus/infection/disease, have left civilization behind to take refuge in their isolated cabin. When another family arrives, the characters must decide whether to focus on self-preservation or if they'll choose to be vulnerable by trusting these strangers who could prove resourceful.
Unlike many popular zombie films, It Comes at Night allows the viewers to fill in the gaps of how these characters got to this point and how the infection could have spread, while other infection movies will hold a viewer's hand throughout the entire journey so there's no mistaking how the story has come to this. The film focuses far more on how the distrust and paranoia of confronting outsiders can tear two well-meaning families apart, forcing the audience to decide who is right and who is wrong.
The most common genre that uses similar themes would be zombie movies, but there are plenty of great stories about characters forced to choose between their own safety and the unknown, told through the lens of infection, the supernatural, or society.
Check out our picks for some of the most intense thrillers featuring infections!
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
The Thing (1982)
One of the greatest sci-fi thrillers of all time, The Thing is more often than not considered an "alien" movie, due to, well, an alien that is discovered in Antarctica that can perfectly replicate other living things.
Despite its notoriety as an alien film, it's an incredible representation of not knowing who to trust in the face of danger.
Director John Carpenter has explained that he considers there to be two types of horror movies and each type is determined by the location of evil. If a group of people were sitting around a campfire, one type of evil would be "out there," it would be an "other," some force from the outside trying to damage what's inside.
The other type, according to Carpenter, focuses on evil being within humans themselves, causing them to turn on one another in treacherous ways.
Few films have captured paranoia and distrust of your community quite like The Thing, which features fantastic performances, special effects, and musical score.
[H/T YouTube, Shudder]prevnext
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Is Romero's film often considered one of the best zombie movies of all time? Well, sure, but the key to its success is how little it needs to focus on zombie mythology to make a compelling story.
Dawn of the Dead opens with the beginnings of society's collapse through a news station airing a debate about the source of the zombie infection and how to combat it, which is ultimately abandoned and goes off-air for the crew's safety. Shortly after, we see a police force invading a tenement building to kill zombies to prevent the spread of infection, which also shows police officers who are too enthusiastic to kill off residents, even if they don't know if they're actually infected.
Most of the film takes place in a mall with a group of survivors having effectively barricaded themselves inside and with enough supplies to stay hidden for months. However, it's the realization that they aren't truly living, but merely surviving, and that they must leave this comfort zone behind if there's any hope for any semblance of a life in front of them that leads to danger.
Yes, there are gruesome zombie effects and a few scenes of brain-eating and head explosions, but much like It Comes at Night, the viewer is shown very little of how the outside world has begun to decay as we experience the survivors merely hoping to stave off death one day at a time.prevnext
With the ever-growing real-world threat of infectious diseases like Ebola on the rise, Outbreak explored what would happen if that disease left the small communities in which is was regularly appearing and made its way to the United States.
The film is loosely based upon the nonfiction book The Hot Zone, which explored just how terrifying these real-world diseases could be.
When looking at the film's narrative, it easily could have been an exploitative B-movie about the dangers of the government and how far they're willing to go to cover up these diseases, but by bringing in actors like Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman, the film was given much more legitimacy.
Ultimately, the film does go to some pulpy areas of storytelling, but it has become a well-known touchstone about a worst-case scenario focusing on an unstoppable virus and the ensuing tailspin it could send both local and national societies into.prevnext
Following in the footsteps of Outbreak was Contagion, another medical thriller featuring an incredible ensemble cast including the likes of Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, and Laurence Fishburne. Additionally, the film was directed by Steven Soderbergh, lending his signature look and editing techniques that make audiences feel like they're merely a fly on the fall as opposed to big cinematic sequences.
In the film, a mysterious disease emerges almost out of nowhere that his similar symptoms to common illnesses that ultimately leads to a victim's death.
Modeled after the 2003 SARS epidemic and 2009 flu pandemic, writer Scott Z. Burns consulted with the World Health Organization to most accurately convey how the government would respond to the situation and just how disastrous the scenario could be.
Less pulpy than Outbreak, the film became a critical and financial success.prevnext
Cabin Fever (2003)
When a group of coeds goes to a remote cabin to celebrate a school vacation, their worst fears are realized when a diseased man stumbles out of the woods and vomits on their car, putting them all on the defensive of what else could be lurking in the woods and trying to place the blame on one another.
Other films on this list might show more accurate real-life responses to infections or rely on fear and paranoia to scare its audiences, but Cabin Fever is a completely over-the-top depiction of ridiculous characters responding to a disgusting situation.
The feature film debut of Eli Roth, the movie features the best in practical special effects and his signature sense of humor, and while other films might be hard to watch because they'd make the viewer feel like they could be put in that situation, Cabin Fever is hard to watch purely due to its levels of disgust.
In fact, Roth felt so strongly that people wouldn't want to see what was on the screen, the DVD included a special feature that caused the silhouette of fingers to come over the screen to obscure the image, mimicking someone so scared that they have to close their eyes for the truly gruesome sequences.prevnext
Another film that leans into the more horrific elements of an infection, [REC] is one of the best "zombie-but-not-zombie" films in the genre.
While a reporter is at a fire station to do a piece on the firefighters, she gets to go along with them on a call to an apartment building about a potentially injured individual. What the camera crew discovers is far more horrifying than they could have imagined, but when they try to leave the building, the police have barricaded them inside.
This highly entertaining movie was shot with a fake documentary style, making the audience feel like they're trapped in this building right alongside the film's characters.
The Spanish-made film was so successful, in fact, that an English language version, Quarantine, was released the following year.prevnext
In 1938, Orson Welles inadvertently caused massive public panic by broadcasting War of the Worlds over the radio, with many listeners believing what they were hearing to be reality. Pontypool, however, turns the tables and tells the tale of what would happen if the crew at a radio station had to hear the world crumble around them.
When a radio shock jock begins to receive reports of bizarre and erratic behavior from members of the public, his goofy facade slowly begins to fade from his broadcast. The more reports that come in, the more the DJ realizes the situation is far more severe than he imagined, highlighting a nontraditional justification of how this "disease" could spread.
What makes Pontypool so interesting is how, with the movie only taking place in one location, the viewer doesn't get to actually see the terrifying events unfold, we just have to assume they're actually happening. Much like the characters in the film, there isn't much proof to make the audience believe these horrific things are truly taking place outside their doors, showing not only the need to trust others, but questioning who we should believe.0comments
[H/T YouTube, hoodzy23]
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