REVIEW: Bird Box (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Bird Box — Directed by Susanne Bier.

The post-apocalyptic novel upon which Susanne Bier’s film of the same name, Bird Box, is based came out in 2014. So, let’s just get one thing out of the way, its ideas, though perhaps stale in a world where A Quiet Place just came out months ago, do not deserve to be cast aside just because Krasinski beat Bier to the punch. Besides, A Quiet Place isn’t even the film Bird Box resembles the most.

Bird Box follows Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock), a pregnant woman unprepared for motherhood, when panic arises all over the globe due to these unexplained public mass suicides. While visiting the doctor for a regular checkup, the mass suicides start to happen all around her. As people start to die seemingly out of nowhere, she is rescued by Tom (played by Trevante Rhodes) who escorts her into a nearby house, much to the annoyance of one of the people inside.

Malorie, Tom, and the rest of the people inside of the house gather that the mass suicides are caused by seeing something outside, out in the open. The group decides to use blindfolds, GPS-systems, and proximity sensors to move around out in the open, but not all survivors who knock on their door are to be trusted in this cruel world. In a world where nothing makes sense and every mistake can be fatal, Malorie must prepare for the tough job of motherhood.

Bird Box has an extraordinary cast that, other than rising star Trevante Rhodes and established star Sandra Bullock, includes John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, B. D. Wong, and others. They have teamed up to make a film written by Eric Heisserer, who also wrote such things as Arrival and Lights Out, and directed by Oscar, European Film Award, and Emmy-winning Danish director Susanne Bier.

Though Bier’s film boasts a strong cast, most of the actors are wasted in insignificant roles or with characters who are entirely one-note or nondescript. Though I’m sure Malkovich had fun with his sour character who says such lines as “making the end of the world great again,” I only really connected with three performers here.

One is Sandra Bullock, the other is Trevante Rhodes who, I insist, must become a star one of these days, and, finally, Danielle Macdonald who plays the polar opposite to Bullock’s character — except for the fact that their characters are both pregnant. Though he plays a significant role in the film, I wanted much more of Rhodes who made another positive impression, but it is Bullock, who is in good form here, and her character’s steely and stern approach to the wild that will remain the most memorable aspect of the film.

Though a character early on says something along the lines of “it’s all about people’s inability to connect,” perhaps the film’s clearest theme is that of motherhood in a world where you are practically incapable of protecting the ones you love.

Again, I must insist that while audiences may initially think of A Quiet Place when they watch this film, Susanne Bier’s post-apocalyptic thriller resembles Frank Darabont’s The Mist and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening much more, which is both a good and a bad thing.

Because while I do think that Bier’s film is an improvement on Shyamalan’s The Happening, Bird Box, like Shyamalan’s wind-focused end-of-the-world thriller, has some silly moments as well as moments in which you have to suspend your disbelief.

For one, late in the film, a blindfolded Bullock is lost in the woods and even though she frantically runs around, she never at one point runs into anything (though she does trip over a thing or two). Believe you me, if you are going to run around screaming in the woods while you are blindfolded, then you definitely will run into a tree at some point, and you definitely won’t just magically get to where you’re going with only the sound of birds chirping to guide you.

The last fifteen minutes didn’t work for me, the excessive time-jump in the middle of the film didn’t either, and the lack of an explanation for anything also frustrated me. At some point, you just stop being scared of what can only hurt you by sight, and the story twist that forced another thing to fear into the story felt unnatural to me.

Susanne Bier’s Bird Box features an impressive cast of actors and a couple of genuinely engaging performances. But Bier’s film, unfortunately, suffers from one-note characters, an over-insistence on a suspension of disbelief, and an approach to the concept which grants no explanation of anything whatsoever. Even though I do think Bird Box is an improvement on one of the films that it seems to have been inspired by, the generic post-apocalyptic thriller ended up being fairly unsatisfying to me.

6.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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