“Contagion” Leaves a Scary Residue


Two out of five men don’t wash their hands after going to the restroom. That figure comes from mashing together several figures from studies placing the number anywhere from 77% down to 50% (just search the Internet with “Average that men wash hands”). So let’s say two out of five men don’t wash in a public restroom.

Visiting the movie theater restroom after a screening of “Contagion” had just let out, I can see how powerful this movie is. There was a run on soap. All the faucets were set to super hot. And I had to wait in line to wash my hands. Every single person in there washed his hands thoroughly, with soap, and then dried them properly. The Center for Disease Control would be proud.

This film is not about the people who get a virus. It’s not about a zombie virus. It’s not even really about the emotion of losing a loved one. This is the story of the objects that we leave the virus on. An infected person who walks into a room and touches doorknobs, cups, hand rails, telephones without even realizing are infected yet spread the disease to people who will be coming after them.

Imagine if one person was infected on a bus. Or in a school. Or in a casino. The one person can infect only a small amount of fellow beings, but they can leave residue allowing inanimate objects to spread the infection to others.

This is a great film. It is one of those horror/suspense films that does not scare you outright, but psychologically stays with you to scare you from now on. I defy anyone to walk out of this movie and not be a hypochondriac. I jump on WebMD every time I sneeze, so I am used to it. But seeing such a marked increase of proper hand-washing etiquette after one screening shows that this will be a great horror film that will be remembered less for its acting and jump factor as many other horror films are, but more for the impact it leaves on your mind. Director Steven Soderbergh has really shown that he can tell a story about inanimate objects and leave the audience completely satisfied, which not many directors can do.

The film touts that the average person touches their face three to five times every waking minute, and for the rest of the time we are touching other things and people. Just think – in the time it took you to read this article, how many times did you touch your face? How many other things have you touched? And who touched this paper before you? The printer? The delivery staff? Whoever brought it in from the driveway?

How fast can disease spread when you can’t calculate its source and you don’t even know you’re fighting it? It makes you think.

Rated PG-13, I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.