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Why Disease Makes Such Compelling Viewing

Movie fans will be well aware that a cold or headache is the least of your worries; there are far worse health problems you could be struck down by. Epidemics of viral and bacterial diseases that prove fatal are often depicted on the big screen. Audiences appear captivated by the likes of bacteria that consume flesh or deadly viruses that infect blood; despite the fact that in these disease horror movies human lives are lost.

You might wonder what would make people want to pay to watch the most recent horror picture that is centered on a lethal disease; just why would they want to do this? This is in part obvious; they want to be shocked and scared, as people like nothing better than this when they go to see a movie. From the safety of the movie theater they are well aware that despite the awesome special effects, it’s not real and very far removed from the reality of being struck down with a lethal disease. They are safe in the knowledge that at the end of the picture, they’ll leave just as healthy as they went in, free from deadly viruses, bacteria or anything else that may have been depicted in the movie.

Movies featuring deadly diseases are designed to set an audience’s hearts racing; if you want something gentler you’d obviously go to see an animation release instead. The shock factor of these movies is what makes them so appealing. In the most part, those viewing them will lead settled lives where fortunately little harm comes their way; this is in stark contrast to the movie characters in this genre of films. Not used to putting their nervous system through its paces in their day to day life, watching these films on the big screen from time to time does just that.

Looking for stimulation and excitement

As humans, we are constantly looking for stimulation and excitement, but seek out safe ways to achieve these thrills; this is what makes disease related horror movies a firm favorite with us. However, an important point to note is the age bracket for which these pictures are so popular; it tends to be teens and those in their twenties who flock to view such movies rather than those closer to middle age. As a general rule, it does tend to be younger adults who are more likely to pursue thrilling experiences; as the years go by we tend to become less inclined to look out for these opportunities, as we become more settled and have already had our fill of heart pounding exploits. Generally older people try their best to avoid activities that will put up their blood pressure and heart rate, so watching such a horror movie is the last thing they want! With time, we are more likely to go through life experiences such as unemployment, divorce and problems with debt repayment, which themselves could be considered horrific; we don’t need to go looking for this at the movies any longer!

Deadly disease is the perfect villain

It’s a well known fact that audiences enjoy a good villain, but the risk of running with the same stereotypes such as Soviet spies and crazed terrorists again and again is that they do become overused and almost unbelievable; haven’t the good guys removed all of this sort by now? Audiences instead expect new characters and what better choice than one with a completely different guise? Step forward, deadly microbes.

When it comes to movie villains, lethal infections are perfect because they are so versatile offering endless possibilities for how they can be presented. They might be invisible, may cause physical harm or disfigurement and then there is always the potential to be deadly.

It’s time to reach for the hazmat

Delve a little bit deeper and it is easy to see why audiences can’t get enough of these disease disaster movies. One really good example is 28 Days Later. For the duration of the picture, the shocking realism is what makes it believable that a highly infectious and dangerous disease could spread through London, wrecking havoc and making the streets a living nightmare. Describing the movie as creepy doesn’t even come close; it instills a great sense of fear within audiences. The similarity of the so called “rage” virus that appears in the film to rabies is uncanny, though they do chuck in some mutants that eat flesh.

An equally eerie movie is I Am Legend. On this occasion, the lethal infection is a derivative of measles that has mutated and has the unfortunate consequence of turning its victims into zombies. In the movie you learn of the story of Robert Neville, the last survivor in Manhattan, which is now devoid of human life and instead plagued by zombies. If this fix of zombies isn’t enough for you, Zombieland offers compelling viewing. Perhaps a more convincing infection than that of the other two movies, this is a variation on mad cow disease. However, unlike the usual signs associated with this condition, those afflicted are filled with the desire to consume human tissue, but not flesh though, brains. In doing so, they become zombies. Chilling stuff.

A take on another real and highly infectious disease was the movie Contagion. Inspired by outbreaks of the likes of avian flu, swine flu and SARS, the movie follows the epidemic of a flu-like illness that spreads across the globe, infecting the whole human population. That in the movie is purported to be a fusion of bat and swine flu that is also capable of infecting humans. Besides looking at the devastating effects, the picture covers issues such as quarantine, disease control and how diseases can jump from species to species, adding to the sense of reality and therefore the suspense and thrill felt by the audience.

Morbid fascination of deadly diseases

As might be expected, these movies by and large keep to a strict moral code. You can almost guarantee there will be heaps of danger, emergency situations and impending doom. Gore certainly won’t be in short supply, with a good helping of blood and guts. However, it will all end reasonably happily. This highly predictable formula works and it really doesn’t matter that you have a good idea of the course of the story and where it will all end up. In no way does this get in the way of the morbid fascination that people frequently have with deadly diseases when they are an integral part of pictures on the big screen.

Whatever your opinion of these films, where lethal infections feature strongly in the plot, you have to agree that they are still one of the most popular kinds of movie for audiences seeking a thrill.

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