Beetlejuice: how this 80s classic became Netflix’s most relatable lockdown movie

Posted by for Life

Netflix; light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, my lockdown lifeline.

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all spending a lot more time at home (read: all of our time at home), which means that we’re burning through our Netflix watchlists like nobody’s business. Whether it’s must-watch TV dramas like Unorthodox, true crime documentaries like Tiger King, or horror films like The Platform, there’s something on there for everyone – which is why it’s so interesting that one of the most-viewed films on Netflix UK right now is a retro classic from 1988.

I’m talking, of course, about Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. And it’s easy to see why it’s captured our imaginations all over again, isn’t it? After all, it’s one of the streaming platform’s most relatable watches.

Don’t believe me? Allow me to explain.

For those who haven’t seen Beetlejuice yet (and who are you, really? Sort it out!), the plot is as funny and macabre as any of Burton’s other flicks. Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are a couple very much in love. So much so, in fact, that they love nothing more than to shut themselves away at home, dodge all visits from annoying relatives, and enjoy as much time together as humanly possible.

About 10 minutes into the film, though, things take a nasty turn for our happy couple. Because… well, because they’re killed in a car accident. But there’s no time for Adam and Barbara to RIP: they have to return to their beloved house and stay in it for… ooh, 100 years?

That’s right, folks: they’re living in an enforced isolation. And, while theirs is filled with ghostly hijinks and an unfortunate run-in with creepy bio-exorcist Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), it all feels ever so 2020.

Much like Adam and Barbara, you see, we were all revelling in our JOMO lives until there was nothing to take joy in missing out on. And, just as we’re busy missing relatives, friends, colleagues, anyone during the age of Covid-19, Adam and Barbara quickly realise that spending time together, forever, ain’t all they thought it would be.

Indeed, when they spy the very same Jane they were dodging at the beginning of the movie through their window, they leap to their feet and wave to her, call her name, in a desperate bid to make her see them.

She doesn’t, of course. According to The Handbook For The Recently Deceased, the living usually won’t see the dead.

“Where are all the other dead people?” laments Barbara. “Why is it just you and me?”

“Maybe this is heaven,” suggests Adam gamely, only to be met by an extremely withering look.

Barbara attempts to fill her days with cleaning, Adam with his model-making hobby. But they only really start to feel themselves again when an irritating new family (Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara and Jeffrey Jones) moves into their house and they have an excuse to get their haunt on.

Why? Because, quite honestly, human beings are social creatures. We crave interaction with others, both good and bad. And even an introvert such as myself doesn’t enjoy being trapped at home alone all day: it’s only fun when it’s self-elected isolation, right?

Beetlejuice has a lot more going for it than its timeliness, however. There’s the musical numbers, the morbid, cartoonish imagery, the LOL moments, the emotionally-charged plot, the stellar cast. The complex themes of grief, loss, and loneliness. The fact that it forces us to confront our fears about death head-on. The fashion! The sadistic kicks we get from Beetlejuice’s maniacal malevolence. Burton’s twisted theories about the afterlife. And let’s not forget that iconic rendition of Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), too.

Essentially, you need to watch Beetlejuice. Right now. So stop what you’re doing, heat up some popcorn (if you managed to grab any while panic-buying, that is), boot up Netflix and get streaming.

You won’t regret it.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Main image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray