Netflix's Bird Box

Netflix’s “Bird Box” leaves much to your imagination

Have you ever considered what life would be like if you had live blindfolded or you’ll die? That’s what happens in Netflix’s “Bird Box.”

“Bird Box” is Netflix’s post-apocalyptic thriller film based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film begins with Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) reading the riot act to a boy and girl, five year olds. She says,

‘Listen to me. We’re going on a trip now, it’s going to be rough. If you hear something in the woods, you tell me. If you hear something in the water, you tell me. Under no circumstance are you allowed to take off your blindfold.’

When you watch that scene, your first reaction is, is she crazy? Why is she talking to 5 year olds that way? Thereafter, the film takes us five years back. And soon, we learn that Malorie is not mean, she’s just trying to protect her children. It’s simple. There’s an unexplained phenomenon out there. If you look at it, you die.

Back to five years ago.

News has broken on television about unexplained mass suicides originating in Russia and quickly spreading across Europe. A heavily pregnant Malorie and her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paluson recently seen in Glass), chat about it briefly. Malorie mutes the TV set, so they do not hear that the phenomenon is headed for the US.

Jessica decides to ditch a date to take Malorie for her doctor’s appointment instead. As Malorie leaves the hospital, she sees a woman bashing her head into a glass panel. Outside the hospital, there’s chaos too – burning cars on the streets, crashed cars and corpses. The explanation? The creature has made it to Los Angeles. Sadly, Malorie doesn’t make it home. Like many, she scampers to safety. She survives a banging to the stomach – enough to cause a miscarriage. But her baby is unharmed and she’s invited into a house by a woman, Lydia, although her husband, Douglas, disagree. It’s Greg’s (B.D Wong) home, Douglas’s client.

Douglas (John (Malkovich) is practical. Think of it, how many would open their doors to strangers under such an unpredictable situation? How do you tell who’s been infested by the creature, for instance. Nonetheless, Greg’s home would became a safe haven for survivors including Tom (Tevante Rhodes), Malorie’s love interest.

Tom takes a leadership position. First, he identifies that as long as they do not look at the “unexplained phenomenon”, they are safe. So he
lets down the blind and tapes the windows with paper. A few days on, when they are low on food supplies, he steps up again. Tom advises that they brave it to a grocery store – driving over tons of bodies outside and the creepy noises which the creature makes.

Malorie would spend the next five years of her life at Greg’s. The danger eventually forced her to leave with Boy and Girl. They have to travel down a river on a boat, and blindfolded. It’s a torturous journey not just for the trio and their pet birds but also the viewer.

It’s hard to think of another actress who could have played Malorie Haye better than Bullock did. She can switch from comic to girl-next-door to glamourous and tough. She brings the same toughness portrayed in the 2009 film, “The Blind Side” to Netflix’s “Bird Box.”

And just like Douglas, at first, Malorie is not easily likable. She’s a layered character. At first, Bullock’s character is as cold as her painting which depicts people’s inability to connect. Early on in the movie we learn of her estranged parents and roommate Ryan – who is possibly also her baby daddy. These events might have caused the conflict in Malorie’s life.

She is unsure of whether she wants to keep the baby or not. And perhaps that’s the reason why she didn’t name the children. She simply called them Boy and Girl. Malorie however transforms. And her motherly instincts eventually come to the fore in the most spin-chilling scene of the movie when she says to Girl, ‘no one is looking.’

Netflix’s “Bird Box” is not for the fainthearted. It checks the boxes that that make a good horror film – suspenseful, creepy, sinister music and carcasses. “Bird Box” has been likened to “A Quiet Place”, one playing on sound and the other sight. In a “Quiet Place” we do not find out how the calamity started but get a view of the creatures. In Netflix’s “Bird Box”, we never got to see the the phenomenon. Nor if it spread across other parts of the US – as we are aware Malorie’s mum is alive. And while these mysteries make the movie enjoyable, when Malorie and the children reach safety at the end, it’s a low point. What we get instead, is a plot twist which tells us that there will be a sequel and not a cliffhanger.

“Bird Box” is streaming on Netflix.

Directed by: Susanne Bier

Produced by: Dylan Clark, Chris Morgan and Clayton Townsend

Cast includes; Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
Danielle Macdonald

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About the author

A lover of the arts who sees film and television through the prism of the Nigerian viewer.