Susanne Bier’s Bird Box is a classic story of courage in spite of hopelessness.
Five years after an unknown phantom attacks mankind and causes society into suicide, a woman must undertake a journey to a safe land if she must save herself and her two children.
The star-studded apocalyptic thriller begins with a voice giving instructions over a radio transceiver. The voice says, “We have a place – a compound. We have a community. It’s safe here. How many of you are there? Are any of them children? Because, the fastest way to get here is by the river and I don’t think you can make it with kids.” This immediately establishes the end goal of the movie. Right after that, Malorie played by Sandra Bullock is introduced with a stern face that covers the screen. She’s seen giving instruction to two kids. She says, “I’m only going to say this once. We are going on a trip now, it’s going to be rough. It’s going to feel like it’s going on for a long time, so it’s going to be hard to stay alert. It’s going to be even harder to be quiet, but you have to do both. You have to do every single thing I say or we will not make it…. Under no circumstance are you allowed to take off your blindfold… No talking on the river. You must listen as closely as you can. If you hear something on the woods, you tell me… but you never ever take off your blindfold. If you look, you will die.”
This begins a narrative told in parallels – of her journey across the dreaded river after spending 5 years surviving the phantom-ridden-end-of-the-world-ghostly town, and then life exactly 5 years ago when the phantom attacked their town and it all began.
As the crisis strikes the town and pandemonium ensues, strangers find themselves locked inside a house they all first ran into for safety, and with little food supply, they must find a way to survive. Malorie, a heavily pregnant woman and her new housemates face various challenges that had her fellow housemates dying one after another. The death of her new lover five years later, Tom, forces her into taking a daring journey that could save her and her children.
This movie adaptation of Josh Malerman’s novel by the same name is a story with a lot of lessons, especially one that says, you never really know how strong you are until being strong is all you have left. Overridden by love for her kids, at a point where she had to sacrifice one (one of them had to open their eyes to look), she chooses to sacrifice none, and now, she must navigate the rapids blindfolded with nothing but faith hoping she doesn’t end up in the wrong direction.
Bird Box is arguably Netflix’s biggest hit till date, and you bet, they did put their whole weight behind this. However, it feel heavily short of what you’ll call a great movie. Bird Box is at its best, okay, but not great. There were a lot of stars who it felt like they were just being smuggled into the movie just to make it look big. John Malkovich plays Douglas – a recalcitrant alcoholic who blames Malorie for the death of his wife who was inflicted by the phantom while trying to save Malorie. Then there’s Sarah Paulson (whose appearance in the movie was rather disappointingly short-lived) and Jacki Weaver. The ‘Moonlight’ star, Trevante Rhodes, was there to play Tom – a muscular love interest of Malorie. The inclusion of all these stars felt very disjointed, and something just wasn’t right. However, Sandra Bullock’s strong performance made the story even more compelling.
The suspense-filled thriller did leave a couple of questions and riddles that were never solved. Questions like: how did the doctor survive? What was the cause of the crises? Why did it begin? Why were some people able to walk around with their eyes open while others couldn’t? The explanation of them being mentally ill did little to answer that question.
One would also expect the safe place for which they had undertaken such a dangerous trip to go to would be a new land free of the ghost but it turned out to be another glorified prison like the one she’d lived in for the past five years with the ghost circling around the compound.
On a scale of 1-10. Bird Box is a 5.5.
Director: Susanne bier
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
Release Date: December, 21.
Run time: 2h 4m
Staring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson