REVIEW: ‘Bird Box’ is a Perfect Way to End the Netflix’s Year

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Bird Box

Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Susanne Bier, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock) who, along with a pair of children named Boy and Girl, must make it through a forest and river blindfolded to avoid the creatures that cause those who see them to take their own lives. The story jumps from the present day to their journey on the river, to day zero, and after as Malorie and a group of survivors attempts to live.

The ensemble cast of this film is remarkable. The struggle of close quarters containment horror is that you need to have dialogue that engages the audience by building relationships between the characters who are trapped with and develop them and their motives beyond set pieces. With actors like John MalkovichBD WongLil Rel Howery and Jacki Weaver the ensemble cast stands out and are just as important as Malorie. The delivery of their lines filled with fear, apathy, anger, and survival that makes their actions believable.

Malorie, played by Bullock, is a detached artist on the verge of giving birth and unsure if she wants to be a mother or put her child up for adoption. She is the focus of the story. As much as the film is focused on survival, its also focused on our main character’s ability to be a mother, become attached, and love. The children in the film, Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) are quiet for most of the time but deliver solid performances which are often centered around the strong possibility of their death.

The connection between Malorie and the children isn’t a typical mother-child relationship. Instead, its one built on the need to survive, leading Bullock’s Malorie to yell at the children rather than comfort them. Although this has resulted in some great tweets from viewers, it is a dynamic of the film that makes some scenes hard to watch but as the story unfolds, you see that the love is there. It may be a loud love, one that uses fear to ensure their safety, but it is love none-the-less.

Our characters are always in danger and that sense of heightened awareness makes it hard to look away from the screen. But it’s this sense of danger and fear that keeps the audience invested and makes the connections formed between the characters realized. The best moments of the film come from Malorie and Tom’s (Trevante Rhodes) interactions. Rhodes delivers a strong performance and as the two grow closer together you never once question their relationship. Rhodes is an actor that I need to see as a leading man again and his ability to hold his own with a legendary like Malkovich is a testament to his talent. He steals every scene he is in and his concern, love, and strength is showcased until the very end.

To put it simply, Bird Box is a heart attack. I mean that in a good way. With brutal on-screen deaths, akin to those shown in the less than stellar The Happening, the film doesn’t lean on its shock value and instead opts to put the characters at the center of the story. As the story develops and characters die off, they aren’t killed for lack of trying to survive or from selfish reasons. This makes Bird Box one of the few movies that give us an ensemble cast that has me rooting for each and every one of them up until they meet their ends.

The rules of survival are learned by the characters and shown to us. The film doesn’t rely on too much exposition that sits outside the events of the film. You never feel like Bier and the screenplay writer, Eric Heisserer, are holding your hands and guiding you through the rules of the world but are instead revealing them to you when you need to know. In this way, you learn as the characters learn.

The film also delivers surprises and terrifying encounters that I wish I had been able to see on the big screen. Not to mention the subtle yet effective effects used to show the creatures are coming, people have seen them, and much more. Overall, there are not huge twists but enough small ones that keep us on a winding road and unable to feel at ease with the situation that our characters are in.

I would say that my only issue with the film is that the plot is predictable for most fans with horror knowledge, but predictability doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The execution of the plot and they turns it takes on the road to the end all make sense and the story feels complete.

After the successful and powerful A Quiet Place, a film that utilized sensory experiences to tell its story, specifically sound, I was worried that I would find Bird Box too similar. The creatures of Bird Box kill their victims by sight, and the director, Bier, uses a blindfolded camera to replicate the sight of our characters and create a sense of disorientation to the viewer, putting us in our character’s shoes.

At the end of the day, Bird Box stands on its own and the only comparison between the two films is that they are some of the best horror films of the year.

Bird Box
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

Tl;DR

After the successful and powerful A Quiet Place, a film that utilized sensory experiences to tell its story, specifically sound, I was worried that I would find Bird Box too similar. The creatures of Bird Box kill their victims by sight, and the director, Bier, uses a blindfolded camera to replicate the sight of our characters and create a sense of disorientation to the viewer, putting us in our character’s shoes.