Bird Box, a Netflix original movie, is based on the 2014 post-apocalyptic debut novel of Josh Malerman. I haven’t read the book, but friends have told me that the film doesn’t do it justice. (Movie adaptations rarely ever do.)
The film flashes back and forth between two timelines. The opening scene is set five years after the beginning of the apocalyptic event. A woman and two children are attempting to navigate a treacherous river – and they are traveling blindfolded.
The box they carry with them at all times holds three birds. The sensitive creatures alert them to any danger that may be nearby.
In the first flashback, we learn that Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is a recently jilted pregnant woman who doesn’t want to become a single mom – or perhaps she’s never imagined herself as a mother under any circumstances. The chip on her shoulder weighs a lot more than a newborn baby – and her life is about to get way more complicated.
Malorie’s sister, Jess (Sarah Paulson), persuades her to go to an ultrasound appointment, where she declines to learn the sex of her baby. It’s right afterwards that Malorie first sees all hell break loose. People (including her sister) begin killing themselves for no apparent reason. Soon, it becomes clear that their suicides are caused by an invisible alien presence that shows them their worst fears. People who are already crazy seem to be immune, and they immediately become “disciples,” trying to force all who are still sane to gaze upon “the beautiful sight.”
Five years in the future, Malorie is in survival mode. She is traveling with two children, one of whom is her own son, and they all must make the journey to find a safe haven without the use of sight. Malorie is still afraid to be a mother – she doesn’t even give the children names, calling them “Boy” and “Girl.” “Boy” isn’t even aware that she is his mom, and “Girl” is afraid of her half the time. (This movie could have been called The Horrors of Parenthood – perhaps Malorie tries to suppress a portion of her maternal instincts and feelings because of all she’s lost and all she expects to lose.)
I’m a fan of Sandra Bullock, so I’ve seen most of her work. This might be the most unlikeable character she’s ever played. Of course, she’s excellent in the role. And grouchy Douglas is another character who stands out in the flashback scenes, due to John Malkovich’s stellar performance. Tom Hollander also shines as Gary.
A lot of people are comparing this movie to A Quiet Place, which I reviewed back in July. I can see why – the Bird Box characters must remain sightless instead of soundless, and there is a lot of suspense in both movies. They both have flaws, too. Less mystery surrounds the monsters in A Quiet Place, and some seem to think that there are more contrivances and clichés in Bird Box – especially with regards to the ending. I don’t disagree.
However, if you like horror/sci-fi films and you don’t hate Sandra Bullock, then by all means check this movie out on Netflix streaming. I’m giving it three out of five goblins.