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Something to Feel Completely

By Brittany Ashley

Two days into quarantine I watched my feeds flood with people rewatching ​Contagion​ and sharing their astonishment at how the new docuseries, Pandemic, “really called all this.”

A few days later, as we flipped through movie options, a request was made for the 2011 film, an idea that was promptly shot down by the rest of the family. I understood the desire to watch a film with such drama and tension and say, to some degree, “I’m living that.” But already in an anxiety-riddled state, I didn’t want to be reminded, even by a fictional narrative, that it would be weeks or months before I saw most of my loved ones again. So, instead, we watched ​Cloverfield. And then we watched ​10 Cloverfield Lane. And the next night, we watched The Cloverfield Paradox​.

“My name is Robert Hawkins. It is 6:42 AM, on Saturday May 23rd. Approximately seven hours ago, uh, something attacked the city. I don’t know what it is. Um, if you found this tape, I mean if you’re watching this, then you probably know more about it than I do.”

--Cloverfield (2008)

If you find solace in ignoring all that is currently going on, these are not the films for you. If you, like me, find solace in directing your emotions at a fictional scenario that invokes the same emotions you should be feeling for yourself? Perfect match. Truly eerie are the new ways in which disaster movies such as these, suspenseful and bewildered, feel familiar to me now. Not because I am, or ever have been, a communications officer aboard a particle collider or living in New York City when a reptilian monster crashed onto Earth. It’s because the emotions those situations pull to the surface are echoed in our own quarantine experiences.

Aboard the Cloverfield Station, a crew member gets a few minutes to video chat with her husband back on Earth before the connection fizzles out. One moment, a group of friends gossips at a goodbye party, and the next they’re in the streets, dependent on themselves to figure out what’s happening and what they should do about it.

A woman finds herself supposedly ‘saved’ from a gas attack, but has to come to her own conclusions about the seriousness of the situation and whether the man in charge is as knowledgeable as he believes. Sound familiar?

Our reality now is that everything feels uncertain and hardly anything is known for sure. But the Cloverfield​ movies invite you to feel your range of emotions with all the heart and none of the stakes, & maybe find a brief solace from our newly complicated existences while you do.

( Cloverfield and​The​ Cloverfield Paradox ​are available on Netflix.​ 10 Cloverfield Lane can be rented pretty much anywhere. )

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