Review of 'Bird Box'

bird_box.jpg Having just watched Extinction on Netflix, “Bird Box” is an entirely different league in terms of quality and suspense.

“Bird Box” begins with mother Malorie (Sandra Bullock) telling two children that they are going to take a dangerous trip down the river and that under no circumstances are they to take off their blindfolds. Taking a box containing two birds the three make their way down to the river and set off on their journey. We flashback five years. Malorie, an artist, is pregnant when visited by her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) who is surprised to learn that Malorie is not aware of an unfolding horror spreading around the world: Massive numbers of people are committing suicide. After a routine checkup there are signs the situation has now spread to the hospital and surrounding area with people crashing their cars into others. When Jessica steps in front of a moving truck Malorie, along with many others, flee on foot. Malorie is taken into a house along with a small group of survivors who tell her not to look outside or she could become like those committing suicide. The action switches between her life in the house, and the trip along the river as she takes the children to a camp she is told is safe.

What I like about “Bird Box” is that we never really know what is going on only what is needed to survive. We never see the monsters though we can often hear them and the sheer terror of being blindfolded ourselves, just like our hero, really pulls us into the film.

Sandra Bullock here is outstanding as the confused, distant mother struggling to come to terms not only with the situation but also as a new mother calling her daughter “Girl” and the young boy “Boy”. Indeed, she is quite emotionally detached from her situation with only the trauma of having to survive waking up her humanity. Bullock insisted on actually being completely blindfolded (rather than any peepholes) so she could convince in her role, and it really pays off. Her very real confusion and stress convinces us as well. Often the film is from her perspective behind her mask, a world of indecipherable shadows and horrific sounds…

There are some great supporting cast here, particularly her two children who utterly convince in their sincerity. Also amazing is John Malkovich as Douglas, the self-appointed slightly unhinged house leader who keeps us guessing as to which way he will go. Trevante Rhodes as Tom, Malorie's love interest is truly understanding and warm towards the distinctly cool Malorie. Rhodes is also great in the action sequences as he struggles to protect them from the alien, and human threats that surround them.

The pacy story is compelling and captivating, keeping us guessing what will happen to the boat travellers right up to the very end. The suspense never really lets up with never any clue as to what will happen next, particularly in the safe house where we never know who to trust (for good reason, as it turns out…). The effects are truly staggering with loads of blood splashed everywhere, the crunching of bodies under the tires of a blacked-out vehicle…this is a very personal horror film that is not afraid to show it but at the same time hide the source of the horror itself…this is the true horror.

Excellent story and cast with a compelling, troubled, lead character, “Bird Box” is well worth a watch though be prepared for some truly awful, personal violence.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2020-06-28

Directed by: Susanne Bier

Studio: Netflix

Year: 2018

Length: 124 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction