Bird Box is one of those films that just appeared relatively out of nowhere on the top of Netflix’s, “suggested for you” listing. Sure, another horror flick on Netflix, that’s hardly remarkable, but then one notices the names in the cast, it reads both as a set one wouldn’t regularly expect in a genre piece – Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Tom Hollander, BD Wong, and Parminder Nagra. That’s a lot of talent, especially for something that hadn’t seen a great deal of pre-release marketing. In the end, it’s a very high-concept piece, and not likely to appeal to an audience really digging for a purely action-driven storyline. There’s action to be had, but in between there’s a fair amount of pondering how to get out of a uniquely different type of attack from the “entity” that’s out there.
The story is told in flashbacks, with Bullock as Malorie, with two young children, telling them that they have to leave, but they have to remember to leave their blindfolds on once they leave the shelter of their house, and no matter what they hear, they cannot remove them, otherwise they will die. As they leave the house, the flashbacks kick in to a time five years earlier, when the world was still normal. Back then, Malorie was very pregnant and at a pre-natal exam when the news is talking about an ongoing outbreak of mass suicides in Russia. Suddenly people start doing the same around her, both in the hospital as well as on the drive away.
It turns out that something has begun roaming free and if you see them, you immediately go into a trancelike state and kill yourself by whatever means is most convenient at hand. We jump back to the present and her attempt to flee via a rowboat down a river, which makes for a highly perilous effort when they have to remain blindfolded at all times. As we jump back to the past, scenes continue to bring us up to the present showcasing various key events in Malorie’s journey.
In a similar way to A Quiet Place made a new level of tension because characters couldn’t make a sound, Bird Box goes at it by taking away the survivors ability to see. Since there’s nothing to see, the ability to mount any kind of counter-attack is all but eliminated. Where the movie may not appeal to everyone is that it’s not going to ever spoon feed answers to the audience. The characters in the film are just trying to survive, they don’t really have the luxury of investigating into the why and how of it all.
The cast is amazing, and it’s worth a watch just to see many of them chewing up the scenery, but for all of those individuals, it’s really a very intimate film about Malorie and the children. The others are unfortunately just background players for her arc.
Bird Box is currently streaming on Netflix.
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