Much has been said about the Netflix recently released Sci-Fi and horror movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich. Released on December 21st 2018, Birdbox became an instant success generating 45 million viewers within the first seven days of premiering on Netflix and quickly garnering comparisons with films such as A Quiet Place and The Happening to The Mist. While the film itself became a phenomenal success in terms of viewership, critics and audiences are split on the film with Rotten Tomatoes currently rating it at 62 percent fresh with the critics and an audience score of 59 percent. It should also be noted that Bird Box is Sandra Bullock's first horror film that she ever starred in, and she has gone on record saying that she hates horror movies because she finds them scary. Upon hearing that quote, one can't help but be curious about why she chose this film specifically to conquer her fears of horror movies and embrace the genre. Perhaps its the intriguing concept that the film utilizes that drew her attention or the strong female character that she felt she could relate to and bring her A game to the part. Whatever the reason was, it was justified as Bird Box despite not being as well crafted and expertly filmed as A Quiet Place, still manages to be entertaining and creepy with its clever concept, strong acting, and effective mood that's chilling.The plot for Bird Box focuses on a mysterious force dominating the world's population with only one realization which is if you see the mysterious entity, you end up taking your own life. Five years after the ominous unseen presence drives most of the population to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. This isn't just any horror movie nor suspense thriller, this one relies heavily on suspense that's motivated by a concept that's ingenious in an era where originality is in extreme short supply. Whereas A Quiet Place dealt with sound being the enemy and the main characters having to go to extreme lengths to not make a noise to alert the evil force terrorizing them, Bird Box deals with vision being the challenge as Sandra Bullocks character as well as the other characters in the movie being faced with the challenge of not looking at the demonic force that's wiping out civilization and having to do everything blindfolded. Two key moments that emphasize the nature of the situation are Bullocks character and her children rowing down a river on a boat blindfolded, unsure of whether they will crash into a shore and puncture their hull or go down a waterfall with the only thing certain is if they remove their blindfolds, they will die. The other key moment in the film is the group of survivors banding together inside a SUV and driving through neighborhoods with the windows painted dark and the GPS leading them to their destination. Apparently the latter scene is so powerful and effective that it was replicated in real-life with a 17-year old imitating the crazy drive sequence blindfolded in Ohio, resulting in her car getting crashed due to oncoming traffic. (Note: None of the insane stunts in this movie should ever dare be replicated in real life as common sense should outweigh stupidity). The bottom line is both these sequences are extremely effective in portraying the urgency of the situation the plot presents and what makes the film standout from other horror movies. It also helps that the clever and noble concept helps to make what could've easily been a typical post-apocalyptic feature become something more than just generic but actually has suspense and a creepiness factor to it.
Directed by Academy-Award winner Susanne Bier, Bird Box is directed in a way in which its meant to spook its audience while not giving too much information away and leaving questions at the end for them to answer themselves. This is not a typical horror flick that relies on violence and gore to scare its audience, this one uses old-fashioned suspense with strong characters the audience grows to care about and a bleak atmosphere that's just downright spooky. Its clear watching this that Bier understands what is needed in order to bring this story to life and doesn't overdo it. Unlike most horror films today, this one relies on its concept and script to do the scaring and by doing so reassures the audience that they aren't off the hook in terms of doing their own thinking in regards to the plot. The best type of horror movies are the ones that force you to have an imagination about what's happening with you filling in the blanks, Bird Box is the type of film that does just that and makes no apologies for doing so. Biers style of directing also manages to bring out the best in her actors as Bullock is on top of her game here with Malkovich and the others feeling as if they truly believe in the story their bringing to life. Bird Box is not just any horror movie one sits down to watch, its an experience both for the characters involved in it's story as well as the viewer.
Having said that, this film will most certainly not be for everyone as horror fans that rely on gore for measuring what makes a scary film good will be largely disappointed here. Despite being well-made and filmed, Bird Box doesn't have he same kind of pure craftsmanship that went into it's production that A Quiet Place had. Whereas that one was one giant set-piece that was expertly filmed, Bird Box is essentially one long character study of those involved in this bizarre scenario. Although not as good of a movie as A Quiet Place, its a far superior film than The Happening as this one finds itself closer to reaching the stars than that movie. Whether audiences like Bird Box or disapprove of it, the film is bound to leave an impact on the viewer long after its over making them question what they would do in a similar situation or if the actions of the characters in the story were justified. The film is a solid horror flick that's largely carried by Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, and Trevante Rhodes performances that are accompanied by the films brilliant concept and Bier's steady directing that never feels staged. While it can be debated that the film never truly lives out the full potential of its concept as too many questions go unanswered by the end, one can say that also is what makes a movie like Bird Box such an intriguing and memorable one in the first place. The message behind the film says that people must manage their fears or those fears will destroy them. It can be argued that Bird Box's concept has been done before and better, however its the way that concept is handled and depicted that makes each version standout as both the actors and filmmakers being their own distinct touch to it. This is not a great movie by any means but its definitely not a bad film and deserves major props for trying to be different and creative in an era where both feel as if they're in short supply.
Definitely worth a Netflix binge.