Original Research - Special Collection: African Women and Pandemics and Religion

‘Creatures in our bed’: Pandemics, posthumanism and predatory nature in World War Z (2013)

Samiksha Laltha
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 3 | a7935 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i3.7935 | © 2023 Samiksha Laltha | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2022 | Published: 18 January 2023

About the author(s)

Samiksha Laltha, Department of English Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


This article provided a literary analysis of the film text World War Z (2013, dir. Marc Forster) with a specific focus on the pandemic depicted in the film and its relationship to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This discussion foregrounded the figure of the ‘zombie’ and the cultural anxieties that this literary figure represents. The pandemic in the film is brought about through an environmental crisis that mimics our own. Mother Earth and nature, personified as female, feature significantly in the film and evoke a discussion on survival, human nature versus animal nature and the figure of the posthuman. This article also employed a cultural studies approach to analyse how the pandemic depicted in the film evokes a Christian religious dimension through a particular scene that takes place in the Holy Land, Jerusalem. The film’s depiction of pandemics, religion and the environmental crisis makes it worthy of discussion, especially in light of the current pandemic that the world is facing, with particular focus on humanity’s response to it. The dystopian warnings that the film projects have echoes of the current social and ecological challenges that we are grappling with. The conclusion of the film deviates from the ‘happy endings’ indicative of Hollywood; rather, it engages with a situation where a temporary, substandard solution is found to an ongoing world-wide catastrophe. The ending of the film draws intriguing parallels to our own experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic and the absence of a cure.

Contribution: This article provided a literary analysis of a film text. The discussion drew on cultural studies, popular culture and religion through the lens of Christianity, with a particular focus on the social and cultural anxieties that the figure of the ‘zombie’ holds as well as cultural interpretations of Mother Earth and nature as female.


Environmental crisis; nature; pandemic; posthumanism; zombie


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