I have always had an appreciation for films and series that recount true stories. There’s a special fascination I hold for reality. The reason behind this lies in my belief that real life can be far more terrifying than cinema. Films or series can never quite match the creativity of real life. “The Hot Zone” is an exquisite example of this horrifying creativity. If I were to tell you that I’m watching a film or series about something unseen but universally feared when its existence is mentioned, what would first come to your mind? It’s highly likely you’d think of a fantastical concept. However, it’s not at all fantastical; in fact, it’s a part of our lives. Our subject: Ebola.
Let’s briefly delve into the plot of our series. Ebola is a disease that was discovered in 1976, named after the Ebola River in the Congo. It has a story that rivals the Alien films. This disease, which has existed as long as humanity, is akin to a creature lurking within the borders of the African continent. It invariably kills the host within a matter of days. In the year 2019, there is still no cure; should it ever get out of control, the death toll would quickly reach three digits. The series tells the story of this lethal disease being accidentally brought to America through monkeys, and the efforts to prevent the onset of a potential apocalypse.
Typically seen on the African continent, the arrival of this disease to a country where millions of people live in close contact with one another would mean that within a few weeks, an entire city would die out. The series manages to fill this sentence with a splendid sense of tension. The suspense created by this unseen enemy and the struggle it engenders, the detective story, and the military maneuvers all contribute to the smooth flow of these six episodes.
Based on Richard Preston’s bestselling book, the series unfolds the story in two different time frames. The segments set in 1989 form the main storyline, focusing on the efforts to contain the Ebola that arrived with the monkeys. The narrative periodically takes us back to 1976, the time of Ebola’s initial discovery, reinforcing the fear experienced by officials in 1989. The episodes set in 1976 can be watched as a standalone series.
Produced by National Geographic, the series boasts a cast including Juliana Margulies, Noah Emmerich, and particularly Liam Cunningham, whom we remember from “Game of Thrones.” The series maintains a pacing that allows the story to flow. The actors deliver fantastic performances, with the boundaries of tension being defined by their skills. The African scenes are particularly well-executed, making the series perfect for those who, like me, enjoy real stories. Moreover, it serves as an excellent means to encounter the facts about the Ebola virus and get informed. Similarly, you can also learn how America’s dangerous diseases unit operates and where the series takes its name from.
Cinema or television is not always fiction. As captivating as films like “Alien” or “Prometheus” may be, life itself is filled with creatures as terrifying as they are. After finishing this series, you will most likely find yourself agreeing with my perspective.
Cast & Crew
creator: Brian Peterson, Kelly Souders, Jeff Vintar
starring: Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Liam Cunningham, Topher Grace
USA | 2019 | 6 EPISODES |