Director: Susanne Bier
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson
Release Date: December 21, 2018
Bird Box opens with a scene depicting a woman frantically rowing downstream in treacherous waters while calling for help on her radio and trying to keep two small children calm. Their panic is palpable and they’re all wearing blindfolds. She keeps telling the children, a boy and a girl (named Boy and Girl, no less), in no uncertain terms that if they remove their blindfolds, they will die.
We are then taken back 5 years in a flashback (which will happen throughout the film), when Malorie (Sandra Bullock) finds out she is pregnant, and is full of doubts regarding her ability to love the child she is carrying. Her sister (Sarah Paulson) tries to reassure her during a routine pre-natal checkup, but then talk turns to several events that are happening in different parts of the world, events having to do with people contracting some sort of virus that makes them commit suicide. At first these events seem random but it quickly becomes evident they are anything but. They quickly leave the hospital while all around them things seem to unravel pretty quickly. On their way back home, her sister sees something (we don’t know what), her eyes become psychedelic, and she attempts to kill both of them by crashing her SUV. This is where the horror begins in earnest. It seems everybody is committing suicide in any way they can. Malorie barely makes it out alive and is rescued by a stranger and brought inside a house with other total strangers. Thus begins her nightmare amid the realization that she is alone with her unborn child while the world around her is falling apart.
Alliances are made within the small group of survivors in the house (as always) and soon enough, the pressure of being cooped up starts getting to them. There are supply runs and hookups – welcome to the end of the world. Again, the film is entirely told in flashbacks, five years in the past and five years in the future. These flashbacks keep us in deep suspense. At no point, however, did I feel confused as to the events being described. The transitions are clean and logical. The plotline is well executed, albeit with some inconsistencies here and there. The suspense builds throughout the film because we don’t know who will make it and who won’t. Several plot twists throughout the film keep things interesting and increase the overall sense of dread surrounding the characters.
Many viewers (and some critics) have mentioned that this film borrows heavily from A Quiet Place, The Mist, The Happening, and The Walking Dead. I agree with them to a certain extent, but I believe this film can stand on its own in the post-apocalypse film genre. Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes are amazing in their roles, while Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, and B.D. Wong seem underutilized in theirs, which is unfortunate because they are great actors.
Stephen King (the undisputed king of horror) has said he was “absolutely riveted” by this film. He also mentioned that some of the lukewarm reviews have to do with many critics’ ambivalence toward the phenomena of streaming films as opposed to theatrical releases. Don’t let that deter you – streaming is the future of cinema, and this film deserves to be seen. I give it a solid 4 stars.