There Is Already A Pandemic Movie — Too Soon & Not Good
On December 11, 2020, Netflix released a new “terrifying thriller” movie titled Songbird. It’s the first movie about COVID and is supposed to be about COVID mutating and people being in the FOURTH YEAR of lockdown.
This brilliant idea was greenlit all the way back in May 2020 and filmed in 17 days in July 2020 — when people were dying in the hundreds of thousands, we had no vaccines on the horizon yet, people’s mental and physical health was suffering, and the pandemic was then and still is now raging on.
The trailer for Songbird was released in October 2020, and people were not having it.
Before diving further into why it should never have been made, here are the stats:
- Director: Adam Mason
- Producers: Michael Bay, Adam Goodman, Andrew Sugerman, Eben Davidson, Jeanette Volturno, Jason Clark, Marcei Brown
- A whopping 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
- Available on most streaming services (including Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video)
Here’s the thing: I did not know this movie came out almost 6 months ago. It was just the first thing I saw when Netflix loaded on my TV last night.
I was so shocked that I took this picture of it and posted it on Twitter and FB with the caption, “Too soon! Never might be too soon for this.”
And that was when I was assuming it was a brand new release. Still in horrifically poor taste, but at least it was AFTER so many people were being vaccinated and there was actual light at the end of the hellscape tunnel that has been this unprecedented global pandemic.
Some actual reviews from people who were forced to watch it because it is their job:
From Brian Tallerico on RogerEbert.com on the day of release:
“With all the nuance of a troll screaming “First!” on a message board, Adam Mason’s “Songbird” is a film that arguably shouldn’t exist. As legitimate concerns rise about people refusing to take the vaccine that could save us from the nightmare that is 2020, Mason and producer Michael Bay take the national anxiety about COVID-19 and warp it into (allegedly) escapist filmmaking. I’m not big on the “too soon” argument of criticism, but there’s something undeniably off about a movie that uses COVID as a device on a day when more people will die from the disease than on 9/11. A talented filmmaker could use that discomfort to find a greater truth. That’s not this movie.”
Tallerico then states, “The truth is that even if one sets aside all potential moral arguments about the very existence of “Songbird,” it’s still just really bad.”
A personal favorite line from David Ehrlich’s review for IndieWire:
“On the other hand, 200,000 preventable American deaths (and counting!) don’t change the fact that trash is still trash — if this year has taught us anything, it’s that not even an N95 mask can totally protect you from inhaling the fatal stink of someone else’s lowered standards. For all of its gimmicky appeal, “Songbird” is bad enough that your entire neighborhood will be able to smell it streaming onto your TV, and it gets worse faster than your nose can adjust to the stench.”
Note: The above review was posted on December 12, 2020. According to The New York Times, as of April 19, 2020, the US is now up to 567,000 deaths from COVID-19 and over 131 million people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.
“It would be churlish to criticize the film’s low-level production values, since, well, it was filmed during a pandemic. But that doesn’t prevent one from pointing out the simplistic nature of the script by director Mason and Simon Boyes, which feels as perfunctory as the obviously rushed production schedule must have necessitated. Despite the high-stakes drama, there’s nary a compelling moment throughout, and some of the characterizations, especially Stormare’s villainous Sanitation Department honcho, are so absurdly one-note that it’s hard not to think that the film is meant as parody. The impressive ensemble deliver their performances with admirable commitment, but you mainly find yourselves distracted by the hope that proper safety protocols were in place.
Ultimately, the filmmakers’ main achievement in producing and releasing Songbird is that they managed to do it at all. Whether or not it was actually worth doing, or if the film will be of any interest after this protracted national nightmare is over, is another question.”
Blake Goble for Consequence points out how this film drives political right-wing fear-mongering:
“Songbird couldn’t have come along at a worse time. We’re struggling to clamp down, and here comes a film that errs on the side of stoking already troublesome flames. This one goes out to all the people that already feel like their civil liberties are being squashed by difficult-but-beneficial-and-still-temporary lockdowns. Opening credit radio excerpts and Alex Jones-esque podcasts question the motivations of lockdown. Cool. This isn’t about huddling for the greater good. There are no tales of essential workers or scientists hard at work here. It’s about a guy with abs and stubble that’s, like, super bummed out because he can’t kiss his crush or ride his hog enough anymore.”
“Director Adam Mason, whom you never heard of, and who co-wrote the slapdash screenplay with Simon Boyes (Mason’s collaborator on the horror film “Hangman”), doesn’t really seem to care about world building, and there is precious little of anything that would help make this universe feel plausible, let alone inhabited by characters who are fully fleshed enough to care about — whose misery and will to survive, in short, feels remotely recognizable to those of us who are living it.”
Songbird is in poor taste.
I think that is clear.
While it is fairly interesting that they managed to film and produce the movie in an incredibly short timeframe in the middle of a raging global pandemic and amidst stop-work orders and lockdowns, that may be the only interesting thing about it.
The story is insipid and superficial according to reviews, the actors are fine, but the question remains — why?
It feels like exploitation at its worst and just bad at best. At a time with so much suffering, why would anyone want to watch a not-so-distant apocalyptic near-future nightmare version of what we’re already living through?
Isn’t real life bad enough for so many right now?
Why on Earth would we want to watch a movie — often escapes from the real world — about the actual current pandemic getting even worse and more terrible?
It feels less like escapism and more like a potential timeline.
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