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Jude Law in "Contagion": The film's worthiness ultimately lets it down 

Disaster and horror movies have always been studied for their possible subtexts by devotees, perhaps in an attempt to make up for the fact that their beloved films have never been treated altogether seriously by critics and mainstream film-makers craving respectability. It's a way of bestowing some meaning on them other than their ability to scare, revolt or inspire a frisson at the sight of people being burned alive, drowned or dismembered. This kind of analysis certainly leads to some silly claims, but generally there is something to the notion that they reflect public anxieties and fears in any given era.

In the Fifties, with the new threat of nuclear oblivion looming, the screen was thick with mutant insects, giant spiders and reawakened sea monsters wreaking havoc, usually on New York City. The epic disaster movies of the Seventies, such as The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, depicted the consequences of corruption and greed among the wealthy and powerful of the establishment, whether they were the builders of skyscrapers or the owners of ocean liners. Such films in that paranoid, newly cynical decade were essentially sticking it to The Man. And then external threats gave way to the evil coming from within us: the demonic possession of The Exorcist, the genetic mutations of the body caused by The Thing, the creature bursting out of John Hurt's chest in Alien. We ourselves were possibly the monsters now, although neither Reagan nor Thatcher could have had that in mind when they extolled individual responsibility.

Recently that genuinely all-American monster, the zombie, has been all over TV and cinema, sometimes lurching, arms out-stretched, sometimes rabid and possessed of maniacal energy. The reasons for zombie infestations are rarely spelt out; occasionally we're told it's a virus, or a cure for cancer that's gone seriously wrong, but mostly we're simply plonked down in the middle of the action, on the side of a motley group of survivors and with no end in sight. Our neighbours, acquaintances and fellow mall-dwellers have turned the ordinary suburban setting into a hell on earth, in which the best you can hope for is possession of a cupboard of tinned supplies and an AK-47.

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