We live in strange times. COVID-19 is spreading faster than butter on a warm crumpet, and with the UK, and indeed the rest of the world on the precipice of total lockdown, it’s difficult to predict how long this disruption will go on for.
It would appear most of us will have to spend at least some time in self quarantine, which depending on who you’re talking to, either offers the tempting prospect of guilt-free dossing off, or confinement to isolation and boredom.
If you’re worried about cabin fever, fret not! We’ve compiled our definitive list of the best films to watch while stuck indoors. So pop open a bottle of Lucozade, grab a pack of tissues and put your feet up as we run down our picks in no particular order…
Starring Ryan Reynolds as a truck driver, who gets abducted and buried in the Iraqi desert, Buried will make you go from feeling cooped up to down right agoraphobic.
Armed with little more than a mobile phone and a lighter, Reynolds’ Paul Conroy has to race against time to negotiate between his captors and those they’re demanding ransom from, lest he be left to rot in his grave. It’s a testament to Rodrigo Cortés’ directing that the 95 minute runtime flies by, despite all shots taking place from within the coffin.
It’s a nuanced, psychological thriller of Hitchcockian finesse, and will make your bedroom feel 10 miles wide.
28 Days Later
The most interesting take on the zombie(ish) outbreak formula for the past few decades, 28 Days Later is one of the few films that transcends the genre. From the opening scenes of Jim wandering a deserted central London to the scathing critique of the fragility of patriarchal society, personified by Christopher Eccleston’s Major Henry West, it’s a film that balances heady concepts with a thrilling plot.
It also helps to kill the boredom to think you’re isolating yourself from a zombie invasion. 28 Days Later helps add some meat to this fantasy.
Another classic exploring the theme of a mind altering virus/alien/thingamajig, The Thing might be the best of John Carpenter’s iconic filmography. Starring a bearded Kurt Russell (which is reason enough to watch it), an alien parasite is uncovered by a research team in the polar wilderness, and quickly gets to work taking over the bodies of our American researcher friends.
Utilising arguably the best practical creature effects ever committed to film, The Thing combines visceral violence, a chilling sense of isolation and disorientating confusion as you struggle to keep track of who’s human and who’s alien. A situation oddly reminiscent to our own, given we have no idea who’s infected by the invisible interloper.
Mind you, I haven’t seen any head spiders…
Ready Player One
In our humble opinion, Ready Player One was one of the most underrated films of 2018. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel is one of the few cases of a film surpassing the quality of its source material. No one can conjure cinematic magic quite like Ol’ Spielbergo (10 house points if you caught that reference), and RPO is dripping with this charm, heart and delightfully indulgent nostalgia.
Set in a not too distant future, almost everyone escapes their overpopulated, dreary lives in the Oasis – a fully immersive digital world, in which you can do anything and be anyone. We follow the adventure of Wade Watts and his avatar Parzival on a quest to discover a golden easter egg that will grant whoever finds it full ownership of the Oasis.
RPO doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it didn’t need to. Instead it serves as perfect popcorn-flick escapism, and if you believe the news, a look into the digital-only world we’ll soon be living in.
A largely forgotten relic of the early 2000s, Osmosis Jones is definitely worth a rewatch. Combining live action and animation in a way rarely seen nowadays, the film centres around Osmosis ‘Ozzy’ Jones, a wise cracking white blood cell and Drix, a cold and flu tablet voiced by the other guy from Frasier.
Together, this odd couple must work together to prevent the deadly Thrax virus from killing their host body – Frank, played by Bill Murray. Add Chris Rock, Laurence Fishburne and William Shatner to the mix, and you’ve got one hell of a cast.
Besides, when you’re stewing in your own mucus, it’s comforting to imagine Lemsip and your body are teaming up, buddy cop style.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Another Spielberg film, albeit a much more divisive one, 2005’s War of the Worlds is, in this writer’s humble opinion, a flawed masterpiece.
Taking the basic premise of a surprise invasion of Earth by the technologically superior Martian race, we focus on Tom Cruise’s plight to save his family and find safety. It’s a pretty threadbare plot, but where the film excels is the way Spielberg and team incorporate many contemporary elements into the Victorian source material. It’s easy to forget that War of the Worlds was released just a few short years after the 9/11 attacks, and the influence of this tragedy is poignantly woven into the narrative. After the initial attack of the first Martian tripod, civilians walk around lost and aimless, their faces grey with the dust of the carnage; a scene eerily reminiscent of the news coverage from New York.
Even the manner in which the Martian vehicles first appear from under the Earth is allegorical of the way the enemy can come from within, hidden in plain sight the whole time. When you compare this to similar films released before 2001, the impact is even more star. The destruction of the White House in 1998’s Independence Day is played off for laughs, for Christ’s Sake!
Sure, War of the Worlds falls apart in the 3rd act, but up until this point it’s a powerful retelling of H.G. Wells’ classic, and a reminder that we need viruses to prevent the occasional alien invasion.
The Simpsons Movie
It’s very rare you’ll see a piece on this website that doesn’t make some reference to The Simpsons, and this one is no different!
Aside from it being a great film, we’re only really including it because the town of Springfield is encased in a giant bubble, a fate that could befall any of us if things don’t improve. Plus it’s a great opportunity to plug our podcast all about everyone’s favourite family – Simpsons Showdown!
What? You thought you’d get through this without one shameless plug? Behave!
And that’s a wrap on our top 7 films to watch while in self quarantine! Have we missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
Stay safe out there, friends!
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