Film Review: Bird Box (2018)

‘[It] has an extremely interesting premise […] however I feel that it didn’t quite live up to the hype’

 

Bird Box, 2018

Directed by: Susanne Bier

Written by: Eric Heisserer

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rey Howery, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Colson Baker, BD Wong, Tom Hollander, Sarah Poulson

A record-breaking Netflix film (with regards to its first-week views), Bird Box follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock, Crash) through two time periods (during the initial alien attack and five years later) as she tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic society in a world invaded by invisible aliens which cause those who see it with their eyes to commit suicide.

In Malorie’s two journeys she has to survive the immediate aftermath with a group of strangers in a home while in the future she’s sailing down a river with two children (Boy (Julien Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair)), seeking safety in a dangerous world.

Bird Box has an extremely interesting premise (with a much, much better execution than M. Night Shyamalan’s attempt in 2008), however I feel that it didn’t quite live up to the hype that surrounds it. Visually, the film is really appealing. The suicides are horrific to see (bar one comical one) and the colour scheme perfectly matches the tone. It even is quite chilling seeing them running away from the invisible monsters, despite all they’re really running away from is wind. And the performances were also well delivered. Some were too carefree (Douglas (John Malkovich) doesn’t mourn the loss of his wife for very long, nor does Malorie mourn her sister (both of whom witnessed the deaths)), but overall they were pretty solid. Its biggest criticism lies in its screenplay.

Bird Box, 2.jpg

I completely understand the difficulties in explaining a post-apocalyptic world without much exposition explaining it, but Bird Box crossed the line and had far too much. The film opens up with Malorie telling her children in the future that they cannot take their blindfolds off or they’ll die before we go back five years and see a news report filling in the other blanks. Charlie (Lil Rey Howery), the film’s unnecessary comic-relief character, also has a theory whereby the end of the world will come and everyone will see their biggest fears. Having all of these is too much exposition. For one, the news report could have been left out as the radio report later on could have explained that section, and as for Charlie’s theory, that became unnecessary as two different people died citing different things they were seeing (from a dead relative to a scary-looking monster). It shows a lack of faith from a writer to include so many of these scenes to paint the picture of what’s going on.

And while the film worked well, plot-wise, there were a few errors or unanswered questions that left a slightly bitter taste afterwards. For one, the aliens seem to only be outside, yet that is never explained. They all find safety in any house they enter (as long as the windows are blocked off), but what’s stopping the monsters from just appearing in the house? Some people also want to see the monsters and become almost worshippers who try to get everyone else to see, again not explained why some commit suicide and some embrace it. Birds are the only animal seen throughout, leaving a question of what happens to other animals or even small children (Malorie tries to protect her new-born baby at one point but babies shouldn’t have a brain developed enough to know how to commit suicide). It also spends too long inside Douglas’ house and with Malorie on a boat, and when it did leave (when the team decided to drive using a car’s proximity sensors and GPS) it was too farfetched to be believable. If the world were to suddenly stop dead right now, I wouldn’t be able to drive a car to a supermarket (and I live in a small town) because cars would obviously have stopped abruptly and would have blocked a path. They also failed to show how they found their car, blindfolded, after leaving the store with all their shopping. I also don’t know why they were running away from the monsters while blindfolded because it cannot touch them, rendering the dramatic chase scene lacking any real tension.

It’s not a bad film, and certainly one whereby audiences who do not examine its screenplay and plot inaccuracies will certainly enjoy. It’s got quite a creepy vibe and is visually appealing. The suicides are presented well (unlike The Happening’s more comical approach to mass suicides) and the story is certainly entertaining. I just felt it spoon-fed its audience the information they needed far too often and left a few slightly bizarre scenes in the film with too many unanswered questions in the end.

 

Personal: * * *     Acting: * * *     Writing: * *     Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * *

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