As someone who has become frustrated with how long quarantine has lasted and with how people’s actions are prolonging the pandemic, the last thing I wanted to watch was an exaggeration of our current situation. “Songbird” gives us that exaggeration without being compelling or even slightly entertaining.
Released in December 2020, this film is set in 2024 and COVID-19 has mutated into COVID-23, a deadlier and more contagious strain of the virus. After four years in quarantine, United States citizens are under harsher restrictions like daily temperature checks and must not leave their homes at all. Anyone who gets infected is taken to separate quarantine sectors, called the Q-zone, against their will where they will most likely die.
However, there are people immune to the virus who are able to do whatever they want as long as they have a yellow bracelet that proves it. Protagonist Nico (KJ Apa) is immune and works as a courier delivering packages to people in quarantine. He must acquire an immunity bracelet for his quarantined lover before she is taken to the “Q-Zone.”
If the plot seems complicated, that’s because it is. The film is difficult to follow and there are too many characters, aside from the main character, that have their own story arcs. However, there are still many plot holes. How are people receiving income? How do they get their essentials?
I think great movies have a villain that is very likable and this film gives us the complete opposite. Antagonist and sanitation department leader Harland (Peter Stormare) is the most annoying character. Every time he was on screen, I found it hard to sit through the scene and was overjoyed when he was killed.
The film also has a huge editing issue. The mixture of handheld and regular footage is so hard to watch. Every scene has such quick cuts, which makes it a headache to see.
Now my biggest issue with this movie is the hopeful ending it tries to shove down our throats. As Nico and his partner enter their new life outside of quarantine, Nico said he was not just delivering packages, but he was delivering hope. These cheesy final words honestly felt like an Amazon ad and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
After everything seems to work out for the characters, the film tries to create this narrative that hope is what gets people through quarantine and will eventually get them out of a pandemic. It says this while millions of people are still dying and unemployed. In reality, proactive government officials and mask mandates will help ease the pandemic, not just hope.
Honestly, “Songbird” is such an unnecessary movie. I don’t know anyone who wants to watch a COVID-19 thriller while they are dealing with the actual pandemic.
Amid all the product placement and aerial shots of Los Angeles that litter the movie, there are little to no redeeming qualities in this film. All I can say is to double-mask up so this inadequate movie doesn’t become a reality.