As if COVID-19 wasn’t continuing to devastate the world enough already, a pandemic-themed thriller is heading to the big screen.
Viewers got a first look at “Songbird,” starring KJ Apa and Sofia Carson, when the film’s first trailer was released on Thursday. Directed by Adam Mason and co-produced by Michael Bay, the film envisions a four-year lockdown caused by a coronavirus mutation ― specifically, COVID-23.
According to press notes, “Songbird” takes place in 2024 and follows a courier named Nico (played by Apa), who is in a socially distant relationship with Sara (Carson) amid the still-ongoing lockdown. When Sara appears to have been exposed to COVID-23, Nico ― who, as it turns out, is immune to the virus ― must make his way across a dystopian Los Angeles to save his virtual girlfriend before she’s hauled off to a quarantine camp by guards in hazmat suits.
Demi Moore and Bradley Whitford round out the cast of “Songbird,” which has already been billed as the first feature film to be made during COVID-19 in Los Angeles. And though Mason has emphasized the film’s romantic elements, even likening it to “Romeo and Juliet” in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the response to the trailer has been considerably less sentimental.
Given Bay’s record as the producer of action and thriller films like “Armageddon” and “A Quiet Place,” some have suggested that the all-too-real human tragedy of COVID-19 couldn’t be translated into film with anything resembling taste or empathy.
And though the movie depicts a mutated form of COVID-19, most of the characters don’t appear to be wearing masks or taking other protective measures in the trailer.
“This is quite possibly one of the shittiest attempts at cashing in on human suffering. Whoever makes this movie should be ashamed,” one person wrote. “This isn’t needed, nor wanted.”
Added another, “It’s too soon! We are still in the middle of the pandemic. I want distractions, not to be reminded of this nightmare.”
At least the producers behind “Songbird” appear to have taken the pandemic’s impact on the 2020 movie schedule into account and haven’t set a release date. And in spite of the criticism, Carson believes the film will ultimately relay hope to a world still grappling with the consequences of COVID-19.
“Even though this is the pandemic thriller and it’s suspenseful and terrifying, the heart of a story is hope,” she told EW. “It’s the hope that is represented in Sara’s character and the love between Sara and Nico. In our never-ending dark night, the songbird sings a song of hope.”
Catch the full “Songbird” trailer below.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.