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  Songbird Viral Video
Year: 2020
Director: Adam Mason
Stars: K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Elpidia Carrillo, Alexandra Daddario, Lia McHugh, Paul Walter Hauser, Demi Moore, Paul Sloane, Andrew Howard, Carol Abney, Michola Briana White, Darri Ingolfsson, Ian Duncan
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 2024, and the coronavirus has mutated yet again to become Covid-23, its deadliest and most infectious strain yet. Across the globe, citizens are ordered to stay in their homes, unless they can prove they are immune, as a tiny percentage of people are, and wear yellow bracelets to prove it. One of those folks is Nico (K.J. Apa), who has a job as a cycle courier delivering parcels to those who cannot leave their houses and apartments, which pays the bills and gives him the opportunity to ride the largely deserted streets and explore. But what he would dearly like to do is meet up with his girlfriend Sara (Sofia Carson), just to touch her once...

Songbird was both unfortunate to arrive at the week when a vaccine for the Covid-19 disease had started to be rolled out across the countries that had accepted it, and fortunate in that it made it a little easier to watch, knowing that there was an end in sight, even if it was going to be well into 2021 before any major changes to the world's population's lifestyle to return to normality were going to take effect. And there was that get out clause in director Adam Mason and co-writer Simon Boyes' screenplay: the virus could indeed mutate, once again bringing up a huge health crisis, so the paranoia of a virus thriller could stay relevant to an extent.

Mason was one of a hardy few filmmakers who made their movie under the lockdown conditions, strictly observing safety standards (some were better at this than others, eh, Robert Pattison?), and one of a smaller subset who created with the coronavirus as a backdrop or subject. Michael Bay was the man who made Songbird happen, taken with Mason's outline and putting it into production with unseemly alacrity (well, who knew if this would end sooner rather than later?), making this, as advertised, from the people who brought you The Purge and A Quiet Place, which were not wholly dissimilar to Songbird even if you wondered if it would catch on in quite the same way.

Thanks to most actors, celebrities as well as those untouched by wider fame, not having very much to do in 2020, and relying on Zoom calls and podcasts to keep their profiles visible, this movie didn't have very much problem in securing some fairly starry talent to assemble a decent ensemble of familiar faces. As well as the romantic leads (known by Millennials for television) there was Bradley Whitford and Demi Moore as a rich married couple, he a sleazeball who exerts sexual pressure over YouTube singer Alexandra Daddario to get his jollies, and Sara's grandmother was played by Elpidia Carrillo, Mexican star of Predator and others. Also along were Craig Robinson as Nico's boss and Paul Walter Hauser as a wheelchair-using war veteran who is not a total creep, making a nice change.

Not so much of a change was that Peter Stormare was playing a creep, a refuse collector promoted to the head of the Los Angeles sanitation department when everyone else died (!) who runs an army of hazmat-suited security men like his own personal stormtroopers, because this story needed a villain - they round up the sick and exposed and place them in quarantine camps, one example of bad taste you would either forgive for entertainment purposes or make up your mind that this was not something you wanted to endorse by watching. In truth, it was not much worse than a Purge instalment, maybe with a bit of the John Travolta TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble thrown in for the romantic angle (or Tawny Kitaen's Crystal Heart, trash fans), and as a technical exercise it did impress even if you did notice how underpopulated it was scene to scene, by design and by necessity. For a sci-fi thriller with more relevance than was comfortable, it pessimistically predicted fascism to keep us in line during a health emergency, but that came with the territory: a story about people sitting about watching YouTube would not be as compelling. Though there was an element of that. Music by Lorne Balfe.

[Songbird is in selected UK cinemas and on VOD now.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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