Bird Box is one of those kind of movies that nobody can really describe to another person, you have to experience it for yourself. Part of what makes it so hard to talk about is that you don’t want to give anything away in fear of ruining the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet. So, keeping that in mind, I will try to be as brief and succinct as possible with my synopsis:
Five years after the end of the world, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her two kids are making their way down a river to join other survivors at what is possibly the only safe place left. There are creatures everywhere and if you see one, it takes the form of your worst fear and you are driven to commit suicide, so Malorie and the children have to make this perilous trip blindfolded.
The movie jumps back and forth in time from Malorie’s blind trek with the kids, to five years earlier when a pregnant Malorie and her sister (Sarah Paulson) find themselves in the middle of the carnage as every person around them begins to lose their minds and Malorie ends up sheltering in a house with a handful of other survivors.
The tension is palpable throughout the entire movie, which starts off with Malorie issuing stern warnings to the children, to whom she refers as simply Boy and Girl: “Do not take off your blindfold. If you do, you will die.” It doesn’t let up for a second. I guess you could call this movie a “nailbiter”. It leaves your nerves jangling and by the time the movie is over you feel like you’ve been holding your breath for two hours. It produces a reaction in the viewer that is both cerebral and visceral; it fucks with your mind and gives you the weighty feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. Director Susanne Bier did an amazing job of crafting a chaotic apocalypse at the beginning and manages to keep that frenzied energy going for the entirety of the movie. There’s really no time for us to settle back in our seats and relax. Post-apocalyptic movies tend to suffer from a lull after the initial wave of violence breaks and rolls back, but that is not the case here.
One of the things I love about this movie is that is taps into your imagination. Spoiler Alert: we never see the monsters. We see shadows and hints that they are nearby, so our minds have to provide its own visual, which is the perfect touch for this particular movie. We all have different fears; would this scenario ever become reality, we would all be seeing different things anyway. This will be a bone of contention for some people, as it always is with movies that require imagination on the part of the viewer: I remember people saying Blair Witch Project sucked because we didn’t actually SEE anything. Same with movies like Paranormal Activity. I think that showing the monsters would have taken away from the movie; any monster they created wouldn’t be half as frightening as the ones that make themselves at home in the cellars of our minds.
I’ve never been a big Sandra Bullock fan, but she is great in this movie; the whole thing really does rest on her shoulders and she carries it quite well. The whole cast is fantastic, including Law and Order’s B.D. Wong, and John Malkovich in a role that reminded me of cantkerous Harry Cooper from Night of the Living Dead.
There’s a lot of buzz about this movie on social media and people are split on
whether this is a horror masterpiece or if it just plain sucks. Stephen King tweeted praise for the film and brought up an interesting point about the naysayers:
“I was absolutely riveted by BIRD BOX (Netflix). Don’t believe the lukewarm reviews, which may in part have been caused by reviewers’ ambivalence to the streaming platform, as opposed to theatrical releases.” (Twitter)
I think we see this a lot in online reviews, that movies released straight to Netflix and the like are somehow not legitimate films. I don’t know how anyone else feels, but I think the streaming services have been killing it lately with their original horror offerings.
Overall, I loved this movie. I give it a 9.2/10. But you really do have to see it for yourself. It’s one of those rare movies that comes along that is more of an experience than just a film. Check it out and tell us what you think!
Bird Box is available for streaming on Netflix.