***Some Spoilers are below – you've been warned!!***
Let's start with “The Pitch”:
- “Let me pitch this movie to you, Netflix. It’s called Bird Box.”
- “So it is about a pet store?” asks the Netflix executive head honcho.
- “No, the birds are significant, but it isn’t about birds. It’s a monster horror movie.”
- “Sounds cool. So the birds are monsters? Like in Hitchcock's The Birds?”
- “No, no. The birds are good.”
- “So the heroes of the movie are birds? Is this a nice Angry Birds movie again?”
- “No, no, no.”
- “Ok, then what is the monster like?”
- There is more than one and they affect nearly the whole human race in a horrific way.
- “Oh, that sounds cool. Are they scary?”
- “Yes, very scary. Terrifying, even!”
- “Nice! What do they look like then?”
- “Well, they don’t look like anything.”
- “What?! I thought you said they were scary?”
- “Well, they are.”
- “Well, the wind blows, leaves scatter and the trees sway.”
- “Seriously? What is this Avatar or something?”
- “No, of course not. Oh ya, the shadows. The monsters have shadows. Horribly frightening shadows.”
- “So the moviegoers are supposed to be afraid of shadows? Can I ask you this…is it their own shadows that the characters are so afraid of in this movie?”
- “Of course not! That would be silly.”
The Strikeout or The Homerun
This pitch would be immediately shot down, right…? No. In fact, Netflix via Bluegrass Films and Chris Morgan Productions not only buys it but also pulls this movie off in a most extraordinary way.
Forget that during a great deal of the movie, the main characters are blindfolded and the viewer, at times, sees only what the main character, Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock), sees. Which is nothing, really. Just the blindfold. Very interesting. Thankfully, they use this device only in a handful of situations which does add to the suspense and tension of those scenes.
There Are Some Actors Here
I am going to jump in and throw out some quick thoughts here. Sandra Bullock (Ocean’s 8, Gravity, Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side, Speed) can act. Still. Since her breakout role in Speed, Bullock still exudes confidence and presence in a remarkable yet understated way that is so compelling and lovable.
Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Westworld, If Loving You Is Wrong, Open Windows) solidifies this cast as Tom, the eternal optimist. Tom is crucial to keeping the group positive, hopeful, and in danger because of his optimism. I can see this being Rhodes’ stepping stone to a leading role soon since he was that good in Bird Box.
John Malkovich (Places in the Heart, In the Line of Fire, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Transformers, Of Mice and Men) plays an interesting role as Douglas. He reminds me of the character Harry in Night of the Living Dead by George Romero.
Douglas doesn’t trust anyone after his wife dies and does everything he can to stop Tom and Malorie and their altruistic, selfless actions. Like Harry, Douglas ends up being right about many things in the end.
The Story of The Blinded by Life Mother
In a way, the story of Bird Box is about motherhood and how not to do things. It is also about survival and how to do things. Sounds a bit contradictory, right? It is.
At times, the character Malorie is not completely believable. She has trust issues which seem to bounce around in extremely significant ways throughout the story. One aspect, which I will not spoil here, is just so far fetched it takes away from the impact of the ending.
After you watch the movie, please come back and read this again and comment. I think it opens up several paths of interesting discussions on human traits and how they affect our decision-making processes.
About Those Monsters Again – Spoiler
Which is scarier, the horror you know or the unknown horror you (obviously) don’t know?
In the intro, I alluded that the monsters in Bird Box are hard to describe. Why?
Let your imagination seek the unknown and unleashed horrors from your subconscious and let them loose upon the world.
Cloverfield. Them. Forbidden Planet. Alien. Go ahead and Google those middle two if you are not familiar with them.
All of these movies delayed the reveal and played upon the suspense of not knowing what the monster was or what it looked like. And they did this successfully. Mostly.
Other movies have tried the same and upon the big reveal became a laughable comedy. Deep Rising, Mansquito, and Leprechaun come to mind.
A scary Leprechaun? Really? Apparently, that didn’t work out so well since the last time I checked, Lucky Charms cereal is still popular. (Yes, I know Leprechaun spawned 6/7 more movies but mostly because they are funny and because Jennifer Aniston was in the first one.) The rabbit hole is deep here and I digress.
Monsters – Take 3
The unknown is scarier but completely less fulfilling, but then quickly switches back to being cool scary again. Enough said.
Summarizing The Summary of the Summation Summarily
So, what does this all add up to? Bird Box, which actually does have a bird box in it, by the way, is a very watchable slow-moving suspenseful horror. There is some carnage and horrible deaths, and it is bloody but it is not overly gory. If you are a horror fan this is a definite must-watch film. It is only on Netflix. Enjoy!
This is BrianZFandom writing from the Zombie Apocalypse while blindfolded.