‘Carriers’ Carries An Important Lesson About Social Distancing During a Pandemic

Rebecca Herman

It is 2020, and nearly everything is shut down. Bars, restaurants, clubs, schools, work. Signs of affection or respect such as hugs, or handshakes are now equivalent to biological weapons and crime. More than 600,000 people in the United States are infected. You haven’t seen your friends in months. One month earlier, if you didn’t visit your grandparents, you were considered a jerk; now, you’re considered a hero. Sitting on the couch is doing your community a favor.

No, I am not describing a movie on Netflix. I am telling the reality of the pandemic happening due to the Coronavirus.

Even though many people are still working and it doesn’t seem like it can get much worse, the movie Carriers (2009) describes the life we could soon have in the worst situation. Carriers is about two brothers, Brian (Chris Pine) and Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci), who leave their home and head to the beach together and avoid contact with people because of an outbreak of a virus that causes people to rot from the inside out. They are accompanied by their girlfriends Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily VanCamp). The four survive together and mostly live out of an SUV they took from a man named Frank (Christopher Meloni) and his infected daughter (Kiernan Shipka). Taking all precautions, the four bleach the entire car and leave Frank and his daughter in the back, separating the sick from the healthy with saran wrap and duct tape. When checking out a possible place where a fake serum is made, Bobby watches over the sick daughter while her father is inside seeing if the serum is real. When the daughter begins to cough and suffocate, Bobby attempts to help her by ripping down the saran wrap and attaching the oxygen mask to her, but when doing so, the sick daughter coughs blood up all over Bobby while Bobby is not using her face mask. Bobby hides her infection, and when it is discovered, Brain makes her leave. Soon, Brian is discovered to have the disease.  The outcome of this movie cannot be predicted. It demonstrates that everyone can contract a disease and how a virus does not have any biases when picking its newest victim. This movie can teach us the importance of social distancing and how easy a virus can spread from person to person. The movie Carries shows the cost of survival during an outbreak and the cost of living another day on earth during a time like this.

Some may argue that the movie has a heartless ending, but the point of this movie is to show that anyone can get the virus, and it all depends on whom you come in contact with. It also shows that you can’t even trust people whom you love, because they will choose to live the longest life over the fact that they can infect you. The characters are willing to do what they must to survive, even if it involves putting others at risk. That is exactly what Bobby does. In order to stay comfortable with death coming, she refuses to tell anyone the situation with the little girl.

There are also some inaccuracies in the movie, which might bother some viewers. For example, it is unlikely a virus would develop that fast in the human body. It seems as if Bobby develops symptoms the next day, but viruses have to have time to find a host cell in which to replicate themselves. It also needs time to make all of these replications and to infect other cells. Unless this is a record-breaking virus, it is unlikely that symptoms such as a rash would have occurred so quickly.

The genre of the film is horror/thriller since the movie does show human remains and humans who are rotting while alive. There are some moments where I had to look away from the screen because of the excellent graphics. In one scene, the group stops at a car off of the road to siphon gas. Danny opens the car door to discover the body of the driver who is clearly infected and has rotting skin. When reaching for the lever to open the gas tank, the driver appears to be alive and lets out a long sigh, and even opens his bloodshot eyes. This part of the movie is intense. The movie also shows the dangers of other humans during this time and how they can be just as dangerous as the disease. Humans at this time are hostile and will take any measures to get what they need for surviving, even if that requires taking another human life.

The fear of the virus could not have been performed better; the actors and actresses showed the concerns they had as if it were real. The emotions expressed between them also showed how hard it is to choose survival over loved ones. When Bobby (Piper Perabo) discovers she has the virus, Brian (Chris Pine) forces her to exit the vehicle. She begs and says, “Please don’t leave me here,” and, “I love you.” The sincerity in her voice is extremely convincing.

Even though this movie was released in 2009, it still portrays day-to-day life under a pandemic in terms that are frighteningly close to what we are seeing in the world today. It is not too outdated, though there is a noticeable absence of smartphones, which probably would have made the experience easier. One example could be when Kate tries multiple times to get in contact with her parents and has to search for a payphone each time.

The safety measures in this movie are very similar to what is happening now; the characters wear face-coverings and gloves, and thoroughly disinfect all of the objects that they touch. In this movie, the CDC sets up emergency response places that are similar to what we are seeing now, but in the film, they fail to protect or help anyone. The remaining doctor and children commit suicide. The way the government handles the situation in the movie is not good and can be a message to the audience that we shouldn’t completely rely on the government for help.

I highly recommend this movie simply because it can teach us the importance of keeping our distance from others, of wearing face coverings, and of being cautious about germs around us. It is uncertain how long quarantine will last, but many of us have time to log into Netflix and check out this movie. Hopefully, this movie will encourage you to heed the consequences of failing to practice effective social distancing. It may even educate people about how easily viruses can travel from person to person.