When the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the early months of 2020, the country went into lockdown. That included the entertainment industry, which suddenly could no longer film the way it used to. Despite that, the state of the world inspired some creators to tell stories about (or at least inspired by) current events, from Zoom-set comedies to isolation dramas. And then there's Michael Bay. The man who made his career making big-budget action films is now rolling out promotion on his pandemic-set movie, to come out in 2021. But does the Songbird trailer, starring KJ Apa, hit a little too close to home, a little too soon?
The turnaround on Songbird is deeply impressive, considering the circumstances. Production studio Invisible Narratives first announced it in mid-May of 2020, right at the height of the U.S. lockdown. The film, which started shooting at the end of June, came in with tight protocols about keeping everyone safe and healthy that were impressive enough to be signed off on by the various labor guilds, even though most were still in the process of creating such guidelines.
The film's plotline is being compared to Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity, leading some to ask if this would be a found-footage type film. But, as fans can see from the trailer, despite all the obstacles the production had to work around, it certainly feels like a big-budget blockbuster worthy of a summer release.
It's also quite terrifying, considering COVID cases are once again on the rise. Spikes have driven both France and Germany back into lockdown, and current estimates suggest things may not return to normal until 2022. Songbird postulates a horrifying extreme scenario in light of the current situation, in which cities become inescapable, in a desperate attempt to curb infections. In this dystopian near-future, the COVID virus mutates to the point where it starts to attack brain tissue, and those who are marked as infected are dragged away, never to be seen again.
KJ Apa plays Nico, one of the few people able to leave his house. As someone who has proven to be immune to the disease, he's marked safe and spends his days as a courier making deliveries. Sadly, his girlfriend, Sara (Sofia Carson), is not so lucky, and she's stuck in her apartment as her neighbors are taken away, screaming in fear. When she's marked as infected, Nico must find a way to get her out of the city, even though it could mean death for them both.
It's... a lot.
Songbird is supposedly arriving in theaters in 2021, suggesting the producers have a far more optimistic view of the pandemic's course than their film would have you believe. Perhaps it will split the difference and come to streaming at that time as well.