Living in a national pandemic, sweeping through life like a breeze, is definitely cinematic. Maybe only because we’ve already seen a thousand films about the impact of humanities recklessness. Naturally, this is why so many have waved it off like an issue on the backburner.
Because so many believe it as nothing more than a Hollywood fiasco.
This Michael Bay-produced thriller is perhaps what is needed: a reflection of what is to come, if we don’t act accordingly. There’s no flashy bloodshed but it’s not needed for a film like this, and I don’t think its intention is to cause scaremongering but instead to just simply speak to audiences.
From Will Smith’s iconic I Am Legend to Jesse Eisenberg’s comedic hit Zombieland, we all love a good thriller. So much so that many of us have become desensitised to the reality that people are dying in enormous numbers every day.
The latest addition to the pandemic genre is the Amazon Prime original Songbird that recently became available to stream. The science fiction thriller stars headliners KJ Appa (Riverdale) and Sofia Carson (Disney’s Descendants) caught in a star-crossed romance in the midst of a deadly pandemic, dated only two years from now.
However, Songbird doesn’t host the natural expectation of a pandemic film. The cast is limited with no extras to fill the screen, creating a scarily desolate film that reflects what our future may be. The virus in the film is eloquently named the ‘Covid-23 virus’ and those infected face something worse than death, quarantine camps that perhaps hit too close to home for the human expectation.
In the film, Nico (KJ Appa) is immune to the virus, surviving in isolation by becoming a delivery man in a silent city. His girlfriend whom he has never met in life, Sara (Sofia Carson) lives with her grandmother, who soon falls ill to the virus. Jump starting an engaging high stakes journey to save her life from being taken to one of the ominous quarantine camps.
The film, as painstakingly realistic as can be, serves as a warning. It doesn’t dramatize reality with decomposing zombies crawling the streets, or a sectioned view of society being handled by different people in a power struggle. There is truly nothing here that mimics the legendary pandemic films of our past.
Instead, it features a small cast of people just trying to survive with their sanity. Included in this cast is May (Alexandra Daddario) who is a popular online live streamer, trying to bring back nostalgia through song. Her role might seem small but remember that so many of us are doing the same. Perhaps this is a romanticised portrayal of the teen ravaged TikTok.
In all, the film appears to be a worst case scenario for viewers. Hollywood’s most recent attempt at warning the masses that fiction can be made real, like reality can be made fictional. The dystopian approach always makes for an intriguing watch, with somewhat manic flashes of insanity throughout that remind us of the differences in our human race.
Such as greed at the expense of others health. In our star studded cast there is the character Piper Griffin (Demi Moore) who is in the business of distributing black market immunity bracelets at a steep cost. However, this greed is justified as it is to provide for her immunocompromised daughter.
However, it again reflects reality through the obvious presence of their white privilege that allows such a lifestyle.
As enjoyable as the film was, I couldn’t help but question it. It’s set in Los Angeles, but the city is empty, there are no background extras to fill the screen. It makes you wonder about the intricates of the film, for example, for those who aren’t immune: how do they get access to food, water and medicine?
We know the rich are cared for, thanks to Lester (Craig Robinson) a seemingly one-man Amazon delivery service. He caters to those still holding wealth through his immune delivery drivers, such as Nico, from his own warehouse that audiences never see him leave.
Be warned: the scenes in this film mostly consist of bedrooms and houses. So, if you’re looking for a wild adventure through a zombie torn city then this isn’t the watch for you. Instead it’s a film about a pandemic that is very close to what we’re living in.
Songbird is promising in the sense that Hollywood seem to have clutched a reasonable message. There’s romance and there’s yawn-worthy moments, will it be an award stealer? Probably not. Because it’s not what people want in regard to a star studded pandemic themed film.
However, give it a chance. Take the politics out of the film to actually enjoy what’s on your screen, get angry at cheating husbands and feel hopeful for feeling happy in a pandemic. Admire the practice of responsibility and see the way this Songbird threads the truth of reality through fiction.
Featured Image Credit: CinemaBlend
Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.