Bird Box, have you seen it yet? According to Netflix over 45 million people have watched it, making it hugely successful in the process. Some have gone as far as to label it “the scariest horror movie that they’ve ever seen!” Basically, there’s a decent amount of hype surrounding the film but just how good is it?
Based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, Bird Box follows a woman named Malorie played by Sandra Bullock. It begins with her & two young children who she refers to only as Boy and Girl. She explains that they will be going on a dangerous journey down a river in a boat. She strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds or they will die.
Five years earlier, Malorie is pregnant and is visited by her older sister Jess while painting. Before going to a routine pregnancy check-up, they briefly discuss a strange news story regarding mass suicides throughout all of Europe particularly Romania and Russia.
While they are leaving the doctor’s office later, Malorie sees a woman bashing her head into a glass panel. As panic and chaos erupt in the city, they attempt to escape in Jess’s car. While Malorie is distracted by a ringing cell phone in the back seat, Jess briefly sees something that frightens her. She crashes the car in an apparent attempt to harm herself. Injured and horrified, Malorie is unable to stop her sister. Visibly affected by what she has seen, Jess steps in front of a large truck, killing herself.
Malorie follows the mob, and is pushed to the ground. She is rescued by a woman and led to a band of survivors hiding in a house, although the woman sees a creature and commits suicide by entering a burning car. As media communications go off-line, the group tries to figure out what has happened. One survivor named Charlie surmises that demons are the cause. They all concur that simply seeing the creatures can cause humans to go insane and commit suicide. They cover the windows to shield themselves from the chaos and creatures outside. Greg attempts to use the house’s security cameras to see outside as he believes a digital image of the creatures will not harm him, but is affected regardless and commits suicide.
What exactly is going on? How does Malorie end up alone, with two children? Will she survive at all? Check out Bird Box to find out.
Firstly, let me just start by saying that Bird Box doesn’t live up to the hype. I know, huge shock right? However, it’s still rather good. It’s far more thriller than horror but there are plenty of moments that are filled with tension. Most of the deaths are violent and quite graphic which is great. Still, it feels like the film is holding back somewhat. Also, the concept alone is fantastic even if it isn’t entirely original. I mean, who doesn’t remember The Happening? And its inspiration from A Quiet Place is undeniable.
In terms of story, I felt compelled to find out how Malorie had ended up in the situation with the two children. The only issue with this is that it all but confirms that everyone else dies.
One of the biggest complaints people have about Bird Box is its inability to answer questions about almost anything. Personally, I don’t mind that they don’t explain exactly what the creatures are. I’d rather theorize then ruin the whole thing with a CGI monstrosity like we see in far too many horror movies. The film attempts to generate fear through the unknown. The characters have no idea what they are and neither do you.
However, Bird Box fails to answer some of the simplest questions. It goes as far as to skip entire scenes without explanation. I won’t go into exactly what I mean here, the plot errors have been well documented. I was satisfied with the ending but even that raises questions that go unanswered.
Bird Box starts strong allowing you to see the chaos unfold and devastate the world. However, it quickly confines the characters to a house. From that point, it becomes very slow and borders on boring. I want to know what’s happening out in the world but you get to see very little. It felt to me like the film lost its nerve and just doesn’t go all the way. It makes sense from a character point of view but it isn’t that interesting for the audience.
What I will say is that you do get to know some of the other characters so that when they do eventually perish there is some emotional impact.
One of the strongest aspects of Bird Box is Sandra Bullocks performance. Malorie isn’t a straightforward character and she displays this excellently. She really elevates a film that would be much less well received without her. In fact, pretty much everyone does a good job even the kids.
Overall, Bird Box is a solid effort even if it’s underwhelming as a horror. It’s worth seeing as it has a sort of fresh feel to it. Still, I can’t help but feel like it isn’t going to be as memorable as it could have been. In time, it may end up feeling like a missed opportunity. Also, it isn’t particularly re-watchable.