Bird Box is a post apocalyptic film that was released on netflix on 21st December, 2018. It is based on a novel of the same name, by Josh Malerman.
The film oscillates between two timelines- the present (5 years after the apocalypse) and 5 years ago, when the apocalypse had just begun.
The movie begins with Malorie telling two children to listen to her and no matter what happens, to never remove their blindfolds.
As the second timeline unfolds, we see the sudden arrival of a mysterious entity and any person who locks eyes with it leads the victim to commit suicide. We never see this entity, but whatever it is causes their eyes to go all psychedelic and they take their own lives. There is mass hysteria all over— car crashes, fires and explosions in the streets. Malorie (who is pregnant) goes for a check up, and notices these happenings. Malorie’s sister also kills herself, however, Malorie gets rescued by a man named Tom, who takes her to a kind of a refuge. There, a group of survivors (with two pregnant women) live together, and they have to overcome many obstacles- even give birth and deal with a madman. We even lose a few of them.
5 years into the post apocalyptic world, we see Malorie and Tom living together, as the sole survivors from their refuge. They take care of the two children born in the refuge. Malorie has the philosophy that if you get attached to something, it will leave you, so she doesnt even give the children names, instead just calls them Boy and Girl. They have to undertake a river journey to go to a safe haven. This timeline follows their rough journey, and how they are tempted to remove their blindfolds, but resisted and eventually reached their destination. Their main objective is survival.
Honestly, this is just one of those ‘End of the World’ genre movies that are so common. The basic idea is the same- something ‘not human’ is taking over the world, and only the bravest will survive. It fails to bring anything exceptional to the post-apocalyptic genre.
However, the idea that ‘if you see it, you die’ brings a little freshness to the concept. Which is leading to a lot of comparisons between A Quiet Place and Bird Box but about the dangers of sight instead of sound. But they’re honestly not that similar. A Quiet Place protects from the dangerous outside by creating a cozy and pretty domestic space, however, Bird Box’s set design presents homes that are eerie and decrepit, and dark, to keep the entities outside.
Susanne Bier‘s direction is impeccable. The CGI in the movie has not been overdone, it is very subtle (and not over the top like many post apocalyptic films). She has shown the apocalypse as a deeply traumatic, claustrophobic and utterly hopeless experience, where they have more fear of other people forcing them to open their eyes than the actual entity that awaits them outside.
Sandra Bullock has done a flawless job. She effectively and aptly conveys the sense of urgency that is required throughout the movie, in her firm tone. She depicts motherhood not characterized by softness and safety, but by violence and fear. We are quite accustomed to seeing her play such no-nonsense characters on life-threatening missions, like in Gravity (2013), Speed (1994). She plays the role of a true survivor, and will do anything to get herself and her kids through to the safe place.
However, one grievance I have with the film is that we dont get to know half of the characters that well. We’re just introduced to them once, and that’s it. And then some of them die. So its not that impactful for us, it seems too mechanical. We dont get to know their story, how they got there, and what their emotions are throughout.
Also, the limited sight presents the perfect opportunity to put audiences in their shoes and really fear the threat of the unknown. Instead, those moments are chopped up anxiously, the camera frequently cutting wide to reveal what the characters are up against (we get to know their presence by strong winds and leaves flying in the wind. Also, birds.).
Overall, Bird Box still manages to be an engrossing, high-concept idea thanks to Bier’s exemplary direction and the impressive cast, and is worth a one time watch.