By Daniel Richeson
Netflix’s answer to the success of “A Quiet Place” takes form as “Bird Box”. A post-apocalyptic horror movie directed by Susanne Bier. “Bird Box” was a flash in the pan as the memes and reaction gifs took over on its premiere and gave this film a bigger meaning. Netflix understands what people are looking for at home and what they want to watch on the couch.
Speaking generally, viewers want to be entertained and have enough of a story to keep them involved while occasionally looking at their phones. We’ve become a multi-screen society and looking up actors or directors during a movie is only one of the many ways we don’t pay attention to our streaming device. “Bird Box” delivers this but also keeps the eyes on the screen. While it’s not nail-biting tension or must-see action, it compels its viewers to invest in the characters and care about how the story will play out.
The film follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock) in the events leading up to and after an apocalyptic event where people see something and are convinced to commit suicide by whatever means. The story starts in the five years after the event where Malorie is instructing two small children not to remove their blindfolds as they travel by raft down a rough river.
Director Susanne Bier has made substantial films and utilized her experience to bring some creative moments to a story that has been played on for decades.
Then the film cuts to the events directly preceding the event where reports of mass suicide and extremely strange occurrences happen surrounding pregnant Malorie and her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson). They go out in the world to the hospital but encounter massive wrecks and acts of suicide eventually leading to Jessica’s intended car crash suicide and Malorie has to flee. She finds refuge with a group of people in a nearby house where we meet a few characters that start off in confrontation but learn to live with each other slightly. Small roles for John Malkovich, Lil Rel Howery, BD Wong, and Trevante Rhodes who portrays Malorie’s love interest, Tom.
The film winds up with just Malorie and these two children, one is hers and one is not hers, fighting against the world in an attempt to arrive at a safe community. The film reveals what the entity does and the rules of the world in the way of Malorie teaching these children how to survive. “Bird Box” leans heavily on themes of parenting and trust. How do we, as a society and as parents, prepare the children of the world for what’s to come? During these times where politics and social media are full of anger from every side, how are the children supposed to deal with that at their age?
“While “Bird Box” wasn’t up for any awards of note, a different kind of recognition came for it. The Internet’s attention.”
Director Susanne Bier has made substantial films and utilized her experience to bring some creative moments to a story that has been played on for decades. The horror genre is an interesting one because of the range of how serious and how self-referential storytellers can make the difference between “The Happening” or “A Quiet Place”. Those two films are on opposite ends of just about every spectrum but overlap with their fundamental plot. There’s a thing killing people that prevents the characters from living normally. “Bird Box” attempts to tell the same story but going after the character’s sight instead of sound, and whatever “The Happening” was.
While “Bird Box” wasn’t up for any awards of note, a different kind of recognition came for it. The Internet’s attention. Blindfolds and Sandra Bullock memes still get play today in sports related fields and even some political conversations. Are movies just about the cultural impact anyway? There were plenty of great films from 2018, but none that are used when a referee misses a blatant call on the field or court. This film had so many people watching Bullock act her heart out. Her performance really sells this film to the audience and makes us care about the character, even if the surrounding elements are a bit “out there”.
As for its relevance in the genre, it’s not going to be mentioned in any list anytime soon. It’s a quick, fun movie to watch with loved ones or a pet, adding just enough story to keep you interested, but enough levity to not take itself too seriously.