Film Review: BIRD BOX (directed by Susanne Bier)

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by Joan Alperin on November 15, 2018

in Film


Written by Eric Heisserer (adapting Josh Malerman’s novel), the plot of Bird Box may be reminiscent of A Quiet Place, but instead of one sound being your death warrant, it’s another sense here that will get you killed — the sense of sight.  If you see creatures, who for some unknown reason have invaded the planet, you will go insane and kill yourself instantly. However, if you are already insane, you will have a totally different reaction: You will experience euphoria and have a compelling need to share this new-found intense excitement and happiness with everyone you run into. Besides the alien flying demons, these are people you definitely want to avoid.

At the top, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is teaching survival skills to two five-year-olds in her charge (Julian Edwards and Vivien Lyra Blair) with, “Listen up kids, these are the rules!” She sternly tells them never to go outside without blindfolds, and to hide under thick blankets whenever possible … and never ever look directly at the entity. In a flashback, we meet the very pregnant Malorie, a reclusive painter. On the news, thousands of people in Asia and Russia are committing mass suicide, a fact Malorie dismisses until she gets in the car for a grocery run. People are running through the streets screaming, drivers are erratic, and many are committing suicide.

Disaster strikes and a freaked-out Malorie makes it to a boarded-up house owned by Greg (BD Wong), where more freaked-out people are hiding from whatever is out there (we never see the monster), including Douglas (a very uptight and distrustful John Malkovich, playing jerk perfectly), another pregnant woman, Olympia (Danielle Macdonald), and her soon to be lover Tom (Trevante Rhodes). There are several scary events at the house, but one of the most edge-of-your-seat scenes is when they drive blindfolded to the market to make a supply run. It’s here Malorie rescues three birds that go nuts when the monsters are nearby, a great warning system.

The film time-shifts back and forth and back again to the present where Malorie is faced with a choice: Stay put with the kids (who she refers to as “boy” and “girl” so as not to get attached) and probably die, or make her way to what may be a sanctuary. In order to get there, the tiny band must must travel blindfolded in a boat down a treacherous raging-rapids river. Through all of these events, Bullock gives an outstanding performance conveying all the levels that her character is experiencing, fear, love, loss, vulnerability and determination — as such, director Susanne Bier’s sci-fi horror thriller is also a love story.

Bird Box
Bluegrass Films/Chris Morgan Productions
Netflix | United States | 117 minutes
limited theatrical run begins December 13, 2018 for two weeks
then streaming on Netflix

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