This is my last review in 2018 – I’ll publish my article about Suspiria on the 3rd or 4th of January – and it’s about Bird Box, a post-apocalyptic horror/thriller with an all-star cast that includes Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson and many other big names.
The movie comes out on Netflix today and it’s one of the most anticipated films of the month. Bird Box opens up with showing Malorie (Bullock) and two kids venturing on a river on a small boat. Something is off though, as they navigate with their eyes covered as to seemingly prevent them from seeing something horrific. Thanks to a flashback, we get to learn that an epidemy broke out five years earlier and now the world is in a post-apocalyptic state where the few people left are trying to survive a mysterious force that cannot be seen.
Bird Box is a two-hour-long film where the story of what happened over the last five years constantly intertwines with the present events, hence Malorie and the kids’ attempt to complete an impossible journey on a river while blindfolded.
The mystery of what happened to the world, what invisible force is threatening the main characters, is what keeps the movie going. Sure, there are some neat visuals – especially on the river setting – and a few confrontations between characters that are somewhat interesting that can grab your attention, but the show-stealer for me and for a lot of people who’ll like the film is, without a doubt, the mystery aspect.
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Unfortunately, however, I found Bird Box extremely uninspired and dull. Honestly, unlike many of the other horror films I review every year, here I have only minor complaints when it comes to the technical aspects. The main problem lies in the story.
Specifically, the fact that the story is copy-pasted from successful similar flicks that came out within the last two years. In this sense, Bird Box is just an amalgamation – in carbon copy format – of movies that were either liked by critics or successful in terms of gross.
This movie is shockingly similar to World War Z for some aspects: a worldwide breakout, news footage at the beginning explaining to the viewers everything they need to know (which is kind of lazy and insulting), the scene where everything begins takes place in a car, the first couple of escape attempts… it’s like the filmmakers behind Bird Box borrowed the script from that Brad Pitt’s flick and changed the names on it!
Yet, once Malorie finds shelter in a house where other people moved to save themselves from whatever threat there is outside, Bird Box becomes a lesser version of It Comes at Night: there’s the same attempt at characters’ confrontation, the same struggles to understand whether you can trust the people with you or not, the same invisible ‘entity’ (paranoia, in the case of the 2017 film) haunting without being seen… although this is a concept I like (and I liked It Comes at Night), it can only work if your characters are multifaceted and have many levels to their personality. Here, they’re one-dimensional and formulaic: the actors did a fantastic job, don’t get me wrong, but their characters had no stakes nor any interesting development.
Also, the whole ‘if you keep your eyes shut they can’t get to you’ is obnoxiously reminiscent of the ‘don’t make a sound and you’ll be fine’ of A Quiet Place. Even if I personally didn’t think much of John Krasinski’s film, at least that movie had an interesting concept with a lot of potential: 10 months later, the same concept seems a bit exploitative and less powerful, especially if you consider that A Quiet Place is much faster paced and enjoyable – despite having more plot holes than a fishnet – than Bird Box.
Ultimately, I can easily recommend Bird Box to fans of the three movies I mentioned above. Especially those of you who got quite some enjoyment from World War Z and A Quiet Place will most likely enjoy this one as well. Personally, I felt bored and annoyed throughout: I don’t consider Bird Box a bad movie (like, at all) but I do consider it dull and devoid of any creative flair.
Bird Box 6.5/10