Netflix's “Bird Box” features a less-than-spectacular plot transformed into a stellar film by Sandra Bullock’s stunning performance.
The film begins with Malorie (Sandra Bullock) scolding and giving orders to two young children she refers to as Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair). She explains to them that they must get to the river, get on a boat and travel down the river to safety. What makes their journey difficult is they must do all of this while blindfolded.
As the film progresses, the plot switches back and forth from Malorie and the children to five years prior when the post-apocalyptic world began to unravel. In the first flashback, we see a pregnant Malorie and her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) learn about an epidemic of mysterious mass suicides in Eastern Europe. It is not long before the epidemic will reach them.
“Bird Box” is based off of a novel of the same name written four years ago by Josh Malerman, lead singer of a band called The High Strung. While the book focuses more on Malorie’s survival five years after the epidemic begins, the movie added more substance in the flashbacks, arguably creating some of the most tear-jerking moments.
The film is quickly on its way to becoming one of Netflix’s most successful productions. According to the company, “Bird Box” has been viewed on over 45 million Netflix accounts since its release on Dec. 21.
“Bird Box” seems to be a compilation of all the newest, most popular thrilling aspects of the genre. The film plays on the popular thriller theme of having to survive without one of your senses. Once a character has seen the entity, it shows you your deepest fears, ultimately causing one to commit suicide. One must survive without their sense of sight.
This concept gained popularity in the movies “Hush” in 2016 and “A Quiet Place” released earlier this year. Though this concept is beginning to feel overdone, it still makes for a thought-provoking film. It forces audiences to imagine what it would be like to survive in a world where a sense so crucial to survival is taken away from them.
“Bird Box” uses the concept of an invisible monster. This concept was also featured in “A Quiet Place” (even though the creatures are shown at the very end) and “The Babadook.” Being forced to conjure your own version of the monster is often scarier than being presented with one. Viewers are left using their own deepest fears to create a monster.
Invisible monsters help to create a thriller that gives more attention to the protagonists of the story. Instead of being focused on the monster itself, viewers focus on experiencing the film vicariously through the main character’s attempts to survive.
Though all of the film’s major concepts have been done before, Bullock’s performance ties all of these pieces together to create a great film.
Bullock’s portrayal of motherhood in life-or-death situations is raw and powerful. Her performance shows that there is more to motherhood than cuddling and coddling. Motherhood is preparing children for the worst parts of life as well as teaching them to enjoy all of the experiences of childhood.
The symbolism in “Bird Box” is subtle, but it’s present. These messages are presented tastefully and will be found by those who are willing to truly examine the film. Many problems in today’s world are inserted into the film such as refugees seeking shelter and the issue of gun violence. These messages are clear, but not so obvious as to deem the film a political piece.