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'Bird Box': A Movie Review

Updated on January 20, 2019
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Rekindling my love of horror and thriller movies, television shows, and sharing my thoughts with whoever may read them.

Malorie rows the boat down the river in 'Bird Box (2018)', a Netflix Original.
Malorie rows the boat down the river in 'Bird Box (2018)', a Netflix Original.

Story Summary

The movie opens with a beautiful shot of fog rising over a river surrounded by thick trees. We hear a male voice, speaking of a compound down the river, to watch out for the dangerous rapids but this will lead to safety.

Malorie, with a very stern voice, tells two young children that they are going on "the trip", it's going to be rough, they have to do everything she says or she will hurt them. Whoa. No talking on the river, they must be quiet, and never ever take off their blindfolds, "if you look, you will die."

With blindfolds on, Malorie leads the children through dense woods toward the riverbank, following a line of string that has previously been strung through the trees, counting footsteps along the way to ensure she knows her location.

Malorie carries Girl and guides Boy along the path to the riverbank in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Malorie carries Girl and guides Boy along the path to the riverbank in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

In flashbacks throughout the movie, we see that Malorie is an artist and a pregnant soon-to-be single mother. Her sister, Jessica, arrives at Malorie's apartment and Malorie hears for the first time that there is some sort of phenomenon going on across the globe; an unexplained spike in mass suicides in Romania, spreading to Europe and Siberia. People were reported to be exhibiting "psychotic behavior", but Malorie dismisses the news simply because it's "in Russia" and nowhere near them.

Although reluctant to go, Malorie heads to the hospital with Jessica for her scheduled ultrasound and check-up with her doctor. This is where we learn that Malorie is unlovingly referring to her pregnancy as a "condition" and according to her sister, she's of the mindset, "if I ignore it, it'll go away."

After her appointment, Malorie is seen in the bathroom getting sick and Jessica heads down to get the car. On her way out of the hospital, Malorie sees a woman smashing her head against a window, over and over. She now notices the panicked people around her and rushes to the car explaining to Jessica that whatever was happening in Russia was happening here now. They leave and try to make a mad dash back to Malorie's apartment, but along the way, the panic in the streets is hindering their efforts. When Malorie searches for Jessica's ringing cell phone in the backseat, Jessica sees something, her eyes change, "Oh my God, what the fuck is that?"

Sarah Paulson as Jessica sees the creatures in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Sarah Paulson as Jessica sees the creatures in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

Moments later she tries to steer the car into another, Malorie grabs the wheel and desperately tries to steer the car away from oncoming traffic and people running in the street. They ram into a parked car, flipping their car into the air, landing upside-down. Jessica crawls out of the car and walks into the street, she turns and makes eye contact with Malorie, then steps in front of an oncoming truck.

Jessica, having been pushed to the ground by people running for their lives, is helped up by a woman, she tells her to run to a nearby house, only to see something and, as a result, take her own life.

Once in the house, we meet a group of people who do their best to survive, and this is where their story of survival begins and the death toll rises.

Cast / Characters

 
 
Sandra Bullock
Malorie
Trevante Rhodes
Tom
Jacki Weaver
Cheryl
Danielle Macdonald
Olympia
Rosa Salazar
Lucy
Lil Rel Howery
Charlie
Sarah Paulson
Jessica
John Malkovich
Douglas
BD Wong
Greg
Vivien Lyra Blair
Girl / Olympia
Julian Edwards
Boy / Tom

Behind The Scenes

 
 
Eric Heisserer
Screenplay By
Susanne Bier
Director
Chris Morgan
Producer
Dylan Clark
Producer
Scott Stuber
Producer
Clayton Townsend
Producer
Ben Lester
Editor
Bluegrass Films
Production Company
Chris Morgan Productions
Production Company
Netflix
Distributed by

Favorite Characters

Tom (Trevante Rhodes) and Malorie (Sandra Bullock) share a special moment in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Tom (Trevante Rhodes) and Malorie (Sandra Bullock) share a special moment in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
  • My love of Sandra Bullock and her acting makes her character Malorie an obvious favorite. Her character is not without fault. Let's just say it's not her mothering nature that won me over, but more for her tough attitude, quick wit and willingness to do whatever it takes to survive. Some might consider the emotional detachment she has toward the two children as heartless; but knowing that keeping this bit of emotional distance helps her cope with the very real fact that she could lose either of them in an instant, knowing that she's doing it to guard her heart, makes it a little more tolerable for me. She obviously had a rough childhood; she mentions her mother not really "mothering" them and her father being very strict and assumingly unloving. The only real family she has for any sort of love and support is her sister, Jessica, whom she loses very quickly at the start of all of the chaos.
  • Tom is also one of my favorites. In contrast to Malorie's way of keeping people at arm's length, Tom is obviously a very loving and nurturing person. He is excited about Malorie's pregnancy and wants to do everything he can to help her, even when she doesn't want help or think she deserves it.

Memorable Quotes

Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) tells the group his theory of what the creatures are and why they've come in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) tells the group his theory of what the creatures are and why they've come in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

I had several quotes that I really liked;

  • One of my favorites come very early in the movie when Malorie is explaining the trip down the river to the children, "This is just a place, there's nothing more that we need from it." I love this mostly because all too often people get attached to things and don't want to let go, and I'm more of the mindset that they're just things.
  • Malorie is obviously disconnected from her pregnancy, her "condition" as she calls it, and through her painting we learn more as she explains to her sister, Jessica, who says the people in the painting look lonely that, "it's really about peoples inability to connect", knowing she's referring more to her unborn child than the painting she's working on.
  • When Gary shows up, Douglas isn't happy about it and wants him to leave, "New guy, you had a great visit. We really loved meeting you. Now fuck off." This actually made me laugh.

Notable Quotes

Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and Douglas (John Malkovich) grill Gary (Tom Hollander) at gunpoint when he arrives at the house in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and Douglas (John Malkovich) grill Gary (Tom Hollander) at gunpoint when he arrives at the house in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
  • This quote by Charlie is the only plausible explanation given for the creatures and their arrival, "The end game. Humanity has been judged, and we've been found wanting... They go by different names, right. You got world religion and mythology that's full of mentions of demons or spirit creatures. People who've actually seen these creatures almost always describe their encounter as with an entity that takes a form of your worst fears or your deepest sadness or your greatest loss... You got the Huli-jing from China. You got the Puca from Celtic mythology. All different names, but the same thing... The end of us."
  • And from Gary after his arrival to the house explaining how there were people out there who weren't blindfolded, looking straight at the creatures, yet not wanting to kill themselves like everyone else, "These psychos from Northwood (a mental institution for the criminally insane)... When these people broke in, they weren't wearing blindfolds. It's like they didn't need them... These crazy guys weren't affected like everyone else. They wanted to see... And they said everyone needed to see."

Raves

The blindfolded view of the outside world in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
The blindfolded view of the outside world in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

The Bird Box film is based on the novel by Josh Malerman. Having not read this book, I went into this movie with an unbiased mind. Right from the start the serious tone of the movie is set with the talk Malorie has with the children. Although deemed by many as harsh and over the top, the reason for the severity is very serious and very deadly.

The pace of the movie is quick, but not so quick that things get jumbled together and storylines get confusing. The overall look of the movie is great. The scenery is stunning; the fog over the river gives it a gloomy feel, but isn't overdone, the woods are dense enough to hide what could be lurking within, and cast is phenomenal.

Leaves swirl and Girl's (Vivien Lyra Blair) hair stands on end as the creatures draws near in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Leaves swirl and Girl's (Vivien Lyra Blair) hair stands on end as the creatures draws near in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

As far as the "creatures", I actually like the fact that, other than the drawings that were done (no spoilers), we never see what the creatures look like. I like this because, if Charlie was correct in his theory of what the creatures were and what they can do, then the creatures would take on a different form for everyone. So, even though we get a small look at what they may look like, these are just the way one person sees them. The unknown actually makes it a little more unsettling for me.

I do like that they added in humans as an extra antagonist. Much like 'The Walking Dead', sometimes there is a need for a little extra danger. But, unlike 'The Walking Dead', the human danger didn't eventually overshadow the original one in this film.

I love when a horror or thriller movie adds in humor, and this movie had just enough humor sprinkled in to raise my rating a bit.

Nitpick

Machine Gun Kelly as Felix and Rosa Salazar as Lucy in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.
Machine Gun Kelly as Felix and Rosa Salazar as Lucy in 'Bird Box' (2018), a Netflix Original.

My first nitpick is probably an obvious one, what keeps these creatures outside? If they're disembodied beings, then traveling through the surrounding thick woods an easy task, and therefore, should be able to travel through doors, windows, even the cracks that are inevitable in these areas. If they are actual physical beings, then why can't they just break the windows to get to people? I don't like to over think a lot of things like this, but this one baffled me a little too much, maybe because I watched this on the heels of Apostle and had similar questions about the antagonist in that film as well.

"Check the bag, check the bag, check the bag", these were words said frantically by Malorie upon Gary's arrival to the house. Tom grabs the bag but he - sets the bag aside? Nothing is done. Malorie is obviously certain that his bag needed to be checked as soon as he got there. We don't even get to see what Tom did with it, the camera simply stays on Gary and left me frustrated.

The birds play a very important role in the story and I have to question how the three little birds survived the trip down the river considering the box, with holes poked in it, would've easily taken on enough water to drown them fairly quickly. And on that note, were Boy and Girl Olympic swimmers and we just didn't know it?

A few of the characters seemed to be just fillers, they didn't really add much to the movie and just disappeared with no explanation or follow-up.

My Rating

There are some down times that are a bit longer than I think they should be, but not so long that I was tempted to reach for my phone and scroll Instagram. And, even though there were a few small things that stuck out as nitpicks for me, overall, I really liked the film

I'm glad that Netflix labeled this film as a thriller, psychological thriller and drama, and not horror, because horror, it was not. But psychological thriller, yes.

On my scale of Buy, Theater, Rent or Netflix, I would love to add this to my personal library. It's a definite 'Buy' for me.

How would you rate 'Bird Box'?

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© 2019 Veronica

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