This last weekend we stood in a huge line at the cinema to go in and see Contagion.

I enjoyed it, it has a very solid cast and it nicely touches on the numerous things that can go wrong in the case of a massive epidemic. Unlike your usual zombie film, Contagion is much more realistic (I would actually say optimistic), touching on a very possible threat and our inability to cope with it, should it take place. Everyone in the film does some mistake that makes the situation in some way worse and you can see how all of them are done out of an intention to do good. I think it’s worth viewing, but if you start feeling that there are too many people in the cinema coughing too close to you and want to run away, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I also got to see Margin Call this week, a film about a very different threat, but somewhat similar to Contagion in my opinion.

Margin Call

Margin Call explores a very possible scenario of discoveries, discussions and decisions that may have taken place in an investment bank at the beginning of the financial crisis. The cast is again very strong and Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons are fantastic as usual. I think that just like Contagion, it has a very well written script and it’s well played out, touching on numerous problems surrounding the finance world, especially during a crisis. It doesn’t try to incriminate anyone (at least I didn’t feel it did), all the people involved are just doing what they think is right (and what is actually right by some measure) to try and salvage what’s important to them… for some, it’s keeping the company afloat, for others it’s having money for their family. Nonetheless, they are aware of the consequences their actions will have on the world’s markets and they struggle with that. By Hollywood standards, Margin Call is a low-budget film (just barely $4mil), but nonetheless I think it’s a very strong production that also comes at a very interesting time.

Both films (and that’s partly why I put them together) are something I haven’t seen in a while. The tension comes from the inner struggles of the characters, not from the action itself (in Contagion there is some tension from the action, but the core of it is really with the characters). The actors really make or break these types of films and in this case they do very well.

If you’re not into zombies jumping out of closets, either film could be seen as quite a good “horror” flick for the Halloween weekend. After all, a financial meltdown or a dangerous epidemic are much more real and thus scarier threats than vampires and werewolves. But for the weekend, I may just stick with Bruce Campbell‘s cult-classics.