If you haven’t seen Bird Box, one of many trending original productions on Netflix, then you’re probably living with a blindfold over your eyes, too!
The suspenseful thriller is set in today’s modern society as it falls into mass chaos after an unknown epidemic sweeps the globe, causing people to commit suicide in the most simple or gruesome ways.
Boasting a brow-raising cast, Bird Box mixes some celebrity favorites (eyeing you Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson) with a handful of unexpected or new faces. Travante Rhodes (Tom) isn’t a stranger to the big screen, but after just entering the limelight in 2016 with Moonlight, he is honored with the lead role opposite Bullock as her love interest. Even Rapper Machine Gun Kelly’s minor role is another unexpected appearance worth gawking at. If tossing things up was Netflix’s final choice, I’m all for it since it brings more recognition to unnoticed talent.
The actors brought the rushing anxiety of the film to life without fail, making the suspense feel relatable since, if you break it down, Bird Box is just a few people running around the suburbs in fear of something no one can even see. Sandra Bullock, alongside the meme-generating promotions of the film, sold every aspect effortlessly. Bullock continues to be mostly self-sufficient as Malorie Hayes, a pregnant woman living in denial of her reality alongside her charmingly optimistic sister (Paulson). After witnessing her sister’s suicide, Malorie becomes almost bitterly distant with little mirth towards others’ interests or dilemmas.
Fortunately, her spirits rekindle in the love she finds in Tom. Like anyone, I wonder if it was merely a last-man-on-earth relationship, but the sincere acting, endearing scenarios, and gradual relationship built on reliability made it more believable than forced. Tom shows he cares for Malorie from the start as he often checks in on her privately, and he is the one to save her from the chaotic streets at the beginning. Don’t we all want someone to protect us? Tom’s companionship alters Malorie’s lifestyle more than on a physical level, and it shows when they have a future apart from the others.
At times, Malorie breaks any facade of her being unflawed or independently strong. Also, the bit of bonus sass from her is always chuckle worthy–lest we forget her reaction to Olympia trying to sleep next to her! Even when Malorie displays moments of rage towards characters, such as “Boy” and “Girl,” whose tear-jerking names I will not spoil, viewers can never feel slighted or turned off by her actions. Somehow, Sandra makes Malorie the woman whose every decision is paved by good intentions. Ultimately, she is the sole character you are not yelling at your screen for. We mostly join in with her when she’s yelling at Girl!
But the thought-provoking personalities can barely compare to the powerful storyline. The story has been done before–true. However, Bird Box perfectly captures that early 2000s thriller intensity without feeling underwhelming or duplicated. In my opinion, being blind is more of a challenge than being quiet (catch my drift?).
The Happening is another thriller that holds similarities, as in there is an unseen antagonist (a disease in this case) and a family hiding from others engaging in terrifying (and honestly more creative) methods of suicide (THE HAPPENING SPOILER:Resting your head in front of a lawn mower? Ouch!).
However, Bird Box is more compelling because it isn’t about merely playing a skittish game of hide-and-seek from the boogie man–Malorie goes out there! Darting through endless forests engulfed in heinous echos and screeches; blindly encountering peril through the scrambling rapids; disengaging the tormented minds who remain unaffected; and waiting to forcefully open her eyes at every turn. She isn’t just hiding from one enemy; she bests each encounter with the utmost courage. Hope is her only weapon in the search for salvation over a promise she adamantly keeps. The universe’s moral fiber has been woven into one soul, clearly.
Another noteworthy piece of the story regards the identity of the monsters. They remained unseen–mainly resembling a dark haze that contorts the air around it like the summer heat rising from burning pavement. The only visual given is in the artwork of the demented Gary, who finds the demons to be “beautiful and witnessed.” Sandra Bullock and the directors clearly state in an interview that they originally created a monster for one particular edge-of-your-seat scene when Malorie meets her fear face-to-face. However, they soon parted with the idea, revealing that everyone’s imagination stimulating their own fears makes for something more terrifying than a laughable green-screen CGI gag. I couldn’t agree more. The mystery didn’t leave me feeling incomplete or puzzled; I enjoyed being mystified about the obscurities. A thriller that can make me look back and ponder just what could’ve been is a great film in my book.
Running off my own interests, particular scenes that captivated my senses more were a majority of Malorie’s scenes after the death of Tom. His death was a little predictable, but it definitely propels the urgency Malorie needs to escape to any sort of sanctuary. Another particular situation I enjoyed was when “Boy” and “Girl” try strawberries for the first time through the artificial flavors of a stale Pop-Tart! The engrossing scene led me to imagine suddenly being in a world in which I weren’t allowed to see outside. That mundane moment was oddly impactful.
My only few dislikes would be the initiation of the epidemic. Although the quick-paced beginning is satisfactory, I felt the outbreak had no real reason–like it just happened…why? I believe this is arguably the more disappointing aspect of the film than having no monster reveal. I felt discontent as to why only birds could sense the monsters, as well–as if no other animals could?
I’m also upset to see that Paulson barely had much screen time and that the two sisters didn’t share a deeper background. I feel that Malorie’s devastations circled around her present situation and surroundings rather than her family or people from her past. Although cliche, I think a run-in scene with an unexpected family member or even the man that got her pregnant would’ve been satisfying to the core! Especially if they turned out to be mental and try to force her to see the demons!
My last complaint is the idea of waiting it out to see how long anyone can last at the school for the blind. Who is bringing the resources? However, I’m not trying to seek that much realism from the movie in the end.
Overall, the character developments weaved throughout the storyline propelled my interest further. Bird Box manifested different yet similar characters and covered how this outbreak made them all stronger, which stimulates natural urges to root for their survival and relief over the peaceful ending.
The main cast selection was just right. It ranged in diversity and put another female in a larger spotlight. No characters lacked any purpose–except the young couple, who unexpectedly ditches the crew for no reason…Still makes me tilt my head. Olympia offers more than anticipated, both in her kindness and her faults, which anyone can appreciate. Each character carefully progresses the story in his or her own right–nothing felt secondary.
Although the movie is a lengthy two hours, the progression didn’t bother me. If you’re on Netflix, you most likely have time to kill anyway, right? While some viewers may have felt disappointed about the no-show monster, that isn’t enough to spark bad reviews. Humanity turned out to be the real monsters in some aspects!
Bird Box lives up to its hype. It deserves its surging waves of endless memes and appraisal, and it certainly became an unforgettable piece of Netflix history.