• Marah Heikkila

"Flu": Coping with Quarantine

Being cooped up in our homes with remote learning, telecommuting, or just general taking care of our health, it’s not a surprise that we need some way to entertain or be entertained. Movies are one of several options, and movies also can help us cope with what’s going on.

The 2013 film Flu, directed by Kim Sung Soo, is a disaster movie that depicts the outbreak of a deadly strain called H5N1. The mortality rate for the strain is nearly 100 percent, and throws the popular district of Bundang in Seongnam into chaos.

Looking at the film as a whole, it does well to deal with how people would genuinely react to panic. There is the initial panic buying a

nd the focus of how easily the virus spreads. Furthermore, the people who get it aren’t just stock characters. The director gives them a backstory, and one of the relatively major characters has his brother contract his disease. The performance of that scene where the brother sees the other is gut wrenching and sinking since the viewer knows there’s nothing that can save him.

The two brothers, human traffickers Byung-ki (Lee Hee-joon) and Byeong-woo (Lee Sang-yeob) are the starting point, and through that, the movie shows the lineage. Those in the hospital contract the disease, which then spreads outside the hospital. While that happens, Emergency Rescue Team officer Kang Ji-gu (Jang Hyuk) and histrionic virologist In-hye (Su Ae) meet. Her daughter Mi-reu is ultimately the key to the cure.

While the two try and work to escape and survive, Kang Ji-gu works as a guide and a protector, giving him heroic qualities and quirks that make him admirable. But the film also messed up a bit with the wishy-washy feeling it gives its characters. In the first part, the President (Cha In-Pyo), looks at his citizens in that area as waste. To take care of that, the infected are taken to a “hospital” but behind closed doors are thrown into a pit or area where they are all expected to be burned. But then when another scene separates and goes back, the President starts to take on a more heroic approach, which makes it hard to connect or root for him given how he was portrayed earlier. Another hiccup is the fact that Kang Ji-gu does not catch the virus in the midst of all this, even when he digs though the corpses or almost dead people in heaps that are waiting to get burned, to look for Mi-reu.

Although there were quirks and hiccups in the second half, the general tone of the movie was chilling. The film is not yet rated and can be streamed on Amazon Prime.


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