I won’t bore you with an intro all about the current situation – we all know what’s going on, and we’re all some combination of freaked out and bored out of our minds. Most of us will likely spend this period of self-isolation watching a hell of a lot of TV and film, so as someone who does this regardless, I feel as though it’s my duty to run you through my opinions on some of the most popular streaming services – how much they are, what kind of person would enjoy them, and whether they’re worth it.
If you don’t have Netflix by now, you’ll likely be signing up soon. Alongside their acclaimed original TV shows, you’ll find a wealth of movies from the past 10-20 years to go at, my personal recommendations being recent Oscar nominees like The Irishman and Marriage Story that you’ll finally have time to catch up on. Also, it goes without saying that Ghibli films are the best thing you can watch if you’re feeling rough, so the fact that Netflix will have almost every single one by April is certainly a plus.
If you’re thinking of only getting these services for the duration of the pandemic, Netflix is a good option with its free 30 day trial, which will (hopefully) provide you with free entertainment for a good chunk of the lockdown. After that, it’s £5.99 a month, which if you factor in the various coffees out that you can no longer have is a decent enough deal.
I must admit, I was reluctant to fall into Disney+’s wholesome arms for a while; Disney’s monopoly over the film industry frankly disgusts me, and as much as I appreciate their beautiful animations, I’ve never really been partial to The Mouse. However, when my parents decided to take the plunge (thanks guys), and I was able to finally see Toy Story 4 and start binge-watching the entirety of The Simpsons, I warmed to this new service.
If there’s one thing that Disney knows how to perfect, its escapism, and for me at least, that has a significantly higher value right now. I’m not one of the people who rushed to watch Contagion and take notes – I’m more the kind who wants to tune out the world with Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and a bowl of pasta. While the free trial is shorter than Netflix at only a week, the wealth of entertainment available makes it a tempting option for at least a couple months, especially as its the same price as Netflix at £5.99.
This is one for the people who want to use the quarantine to brush up on their arthouse cinema. MUBI provides viewers with one new film a day, which is then available for a month before disappearing. This means that the opportunity to binge is somewhat more limited, as is the range of options. However, unlike Netflix where you can get lost trawling through films you’d never have any interest in, MUBI curates some fantastic films for you, and I’ve never been disappointed after choosing one of their recommendations. For instance, a Jean Cocteau double bill is currently available – perfect for my film student friends who want to keep up on their key directors.
At £2.99 a month with a free trial of 30 days, MUBI is the cheapest paid service on this list – if you think you’re up for something more educational over the lockdown, I say go for it, but I honestly don’t blame you if not.
Where MUBI can be seen as the provider of high culture. Shudder revels in the best of what cinematic low culture has to offer with its selection of classic cult horror movies. If you’re averse to this genre, you may as well skip to the next paragraph, but for my camp/gore loving friends, this may be an exciting prospect. Whether horror can be classed as escapism really depends on your current mental state and your general outlook on life – if you can find joy in watching teens get chainsawed in half without it making you feel even worse about the current state of the world, this may be the streaming service for you (though Elvira Mistress Of The Dark will always bring you joy). At £4.99 a month with the selection being comprised of only one genre, this is really only one for those who have a true love for horror – otherwise, you may want to stick to something more pleasant.
(also, use the code SHUTIN for 30 days free instead of 7!)
Ahh, Bezos, you slimy bastard. You could click your fingers and provide many health services across the world with all the funding you need right now, but instead you continue to hoard your fortune like a dragon. And what makes it worse is that your streaming service isn’t even all that great.
Ok, Amazon Prime isn’t so bad, especially with the 6 months free if you’re a student, but the fact that they still charge upwards of £2.00 for you to ‘rent’ some films individually within the service smacks of the same kind of greed that has propelled Jeff Bezos to the coveted position of Most Hated Billionaire. The channels that they have within Prime are decent – BFI Player, for one – but the fact that you need to pay for an entirely extra service makes the variety significantly less appealing.
If I were you, I’d get the 6 months free, watch Midsommar, and cancel it once this blows over.
All 4, BBC iPlayer, etc.
Finally, if you’re looking for a bit of normality, apps like All 4 and BBC iPlayer would likely be perfect for you. Ad breaks are annoying, sure, but for me they also give a strangely comforting sense of familiarity and a connection to the currently very distant outside world. The numerous box sets of documentaries and lifestyle shows also help with this, and are a nice reminder of what we can get back to once the lockdown is lifted and the world is less mental. Personally, I’ve started both The Inbetweeners and Spaced again – I highly recommend that you do the same.
Stay safe, stay home, and keep watching films! If all else fails, you can dig out the DVDs – I know I have plenty to watch.