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The film Songbird imagines what would happen if the pandemic got much worse

A Corrupt government, an extremely strict lockdown and a deadlier virus makes for a not-so-great year.

A girl is sitting in her apartment having a normal day in quarantine until suddenly she hears loud bangs outside her door. She looks through her peephole on the door to see men in hazmat suits knocking down her neighbor’s door. She realizes that her neighbor must have COVID-23. She can hear them searching around the house to try and find her neighbor. Suddenly the neighbor runs out, knocking on her door and pleading to be let in. There is nothing she can do. The men grab her and take her away to a “Q- zone” where she will either live or die and they will do nothing to help her.  

This is the movie Songbird which is about an evolved form of the coronavirus, and the future this movie depicts is not bright. People are locked in their homes, begging to be let out even if there is a heavy risk. But does it depict a real possible future, or is this just creative license? 

 STX’s film “Songbird” is a slow-paced movie with little action and lots of quarantine. The movie is set in Los Angeles, in the year 2024. However, instead of flying cars and hoverboards, COVID-19 has evolved and has become much deadlier. The new virus now called COVID-23 spreads quicker and targets your brain, leading to high mortality rates across the globe. The new virus has forced everyone to stay at home, except for those who have developed an immunity to COVID- 23. They have either been infected with a previous version of the virus, or miraculously survived Covid-23. 

     Some people may wonder whether this could happen in real life, and how the government would react to a deadlier version of the virus. When it comes to the coronavirus, yes, it can evolve, as we have seen with the new strain in the U.K.  

However, it couldn’t evolve into what we see in Songbird.  

Our coronavirus affects cells in the lungs, but in the movie, COVID-23 affects your brain. The coronavirus is not going to evolve to this extent, but it can become deadlier in the sense of spreading, and how much damage it can cause to the lungs.  

In the movie, people who had an old version of the virus were immune to COVID-23. In reality, this would not be the case. The perfect example of this is the flu. The reason we get a flu shot annually, is because a new version of the flu mutates every year. The way immunities work is that when you get a virus, your body fights it by finding two cells that can beat the virus, bringing them out to kill it. After your body does this, those cells stay and are always ready in case that specific virus enters your body.  

So, since the flu virus changes every year you need new antibodies to kill it. If COVID-19 were to evolve into something different you would not be immune because your body needs to fight in a different way. If you get the new version and survive then you should be immune because your body is now prepared to fight it if it comes back.   

The chances of the virus spreading as much as it did in the movie are low, because the government and the whole world are more prepared for pandemics now. In addition, we have doctors testing for new versions of the virus. If a mutated virus were discovered, countries, given their experience from 2020 are now much more likely to cut off all travel within their border. If a new mutation did appear in the future, we might expect that governments would be much stricter with lockdowns to make sure it doesn’t spread. 

In the movie, people who had the virus were sent to places called Q-zones—quarantine zones—except these aren’t temporary. The people are left there to fend for themselves. Meanwhile, the government does nothing to help them. It seems too cruel and unrealistic for a government to exile their own citizens on such a large scale. 

Countries are much more prepared for a pandemic now, and the chances of a potential stronger virus spreading as it did in the movie are low.  

If you follow COVID-19 procedures now, we don’t have to worry about these nightmares scenarios. So, follow the simple rules from the movie: “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Sane and Sanitize.” 

Image Credit: STX Films 

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