HomeMoviesReview: Bird Box is a Decent Post-Apocalyptic Drama

Review: Bird Box is a Decent Post-Apocalyptic Drama

Photo Credit: Netflix

Written by Michael Vacchiano

The end of the world has long been used as great set-ups or backdrops for various movies over the years. Alien invasions, epidemics, weather cataclysms….you name it, we’ve seen it. Now Netflix has thrown its hat in the ring with its original film Bird Box, which features Sandra Bullock leading a great cast and some award-winning pedigree on its crew. Unfortunately, all those ingredients combine to make a post-apocalyptic thriller that’s merely average at best.

Bullock stars as Malorie, a woman who has survived a world that ravaged by an unknown force (more on that later). When the movie opens, Malorie is preparing a little boy and girl for a long journey by boat downriver to a reputed sanctuary. The film immediately time jumps to five years earlier when a pregnant Malorie sees everything around her start to fall apart. The storylines shift back and forth from Malorie and the children’s treacherous trip to safety, and to the immediate aftermath involving her and other survivors holing up in a fortified house to escape the threat outside.

To be perfectly honest, the “threat” itself of Bird Box is probably the weakest part of the entire movie. Apocalyptic scenarios on film have been caused by extraterrestrials, zombies, and global warming. The chaos this time is caused by invisible monsters/demons who cause anyone who looks at them to become sort of possessed and immediately commit suicide. Therefore, those that do venture outside must wear blindfolds to avoid seeing the transparent creatures and taking their own lives. Whether you rolled your eyes with snark or dropped your jaw with astonishment, your reaction is justified. The entire premise is definitely a bit cheesy and probably much more complicated than necessary.

Luckily, Bird Box is saved by an excellent cast who are game enough to participate in the proceedings. Bullock is the unquestioned headliner, and she brings with her all of her movie star talent and skills to the character of Malorie. In the story taking place five years prior to the apocalypse, she is a woman who is already hardened by life and overflowing with inner strength. Too much, in fact, as she feels very little emotional attachment to the baby she’s carrying inside of her. This translates to the journey part of the story when she’s protecting the children from the dangers of the outside world. Malorie’s strong-willed demeanor is reflected in how she cares for them, which is more of a cold disciplinarian than a caring nurturer. The film rests on Bullock’s shoulders, and she definitely carries the load with ease.

The rest of the supporting cast do admirable jobs with the amount of screen time and material that they’re given, and most of them make up the group of survivors trapped in the house in the aftermath. Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes gets the meatiest role as Tom, the alpha male of the group and potential love interest for Malorie. Rhodes has decent chemistry with Bullock, and he certainly succeeds in making the role a little more fleshed out.

The other survivors in the house are the typical character tropes that you’ve seen in numerous sci-fi/horror thriller films. There’s the jerk who only looks out for himself, the naïve girl who is too trusting, the loose cannon, the comic relief, the middle-aged maternal figure, etc. These archetypical roles are obviously nothing new in movies like this, but Netflix has still assembled a variety of talented actors. John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Lil Rel Howery, Jacki Weaver, B.D. Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and even Machine Gun Kelly lend considerable credibility and to the whole affair.

Based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman, Bird Box also features a great amount of talent behind the camera as well. Director Susanne Bier is clearly no slouch — having won on Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Denmark’s In a Better World, and an Emmy for the miniseries The Night Manager. She has a great eye for capturing the more frantic and tense moments of the movie, in particular  the carnage of the initial epidemic and the dangerous journey that Malorie takes with the kids. Bier also deftly conveys the characters’ feelings of helplessness by showing the audience their point of view through the blindfolds. This combined with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s eerie score creates a heightened sense of terror.

With Bird Box, Netflix has added a well-made yet still average entry into the apocalyptic thriller genre. The actual premise that causes the collapse of society as we know it is extremely vague and a bit hokey. Sandra Bullock and the fantastic cast and direction save it from being in the same category as a midnight B-movie. While one of the better original films in Netflix’s catalogue, it’s still nothing that you haven’t seen before.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Birdbox is currently streaming on Netflix.


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