Tuesday 1 January 2019

Dark Film Review: Bird Box

Dark Film Review: Bird Box

Review by Casey Douglass

Bird Box

I heard about Bird Box in an almost incidental way. I saw a few pictures of Sandra Bullock’s Malorie with her blindfold on, and had a friend recommend it to me as a bit like A Quiet Place, but with blindfolds instead of sign language. I managed to miss the apparent hype that has taken place since its release, but having seen it today, I’m glad I took the time to give it a look.

Strange entities are causing breakouts of mass suicide around the world, and these creatures or beings only seem to trigger this impulse when looked upon by humans. Bird Box follows Malorie and her two young children as they try to get to sanctuary, while also filling in the backstory of what happened by way of jumping forward and back in the timeline. The “current” time-frame is their dangerous blindfolded boat journey along a river. The older time-frame shows the day the outbreak reached Malorie’s city, and the path her survival takes as civilisation grinds to a halt around her. Both have their own challenges.

Bird Box
Bird Box is mostly a siege-type horror, the survivors having to barricade themselves into their houses, blocking windows with newspaper and keeping the doors locked The necessity of venturing out at different times does add a bit of variety to things, even if it’s just a case of exchanging one secure location for another. The “not being able to look” aspect is done very well, the entities being alluded to by shadow, movement and sound, as well as various interactions in the environment, from technology to bird song. It’s interesting to watch the various ways in which the characters try to use what is at hand to work around this peril, and like any decent tale, not everything works out in the way that they hope it might.

Bird BoxBird Box seems to be a film very much about connection, or the lack of it. In the early flashback scenes, Malorie is painting a picture of lonely people and talks about not having to leave the house. There is also an eerie hospital corridor populated by people wholly engrossed in their phones. Yet once the mass suiciding begins and people find themselves thrust together, there is almost too much connection, especially as it becomes apparent that you have to be wary of who you open the door to. John Malkovich’s Douglas is a good example of someone who straddles this line, but in many ways, trusting an honest arsehole might just be better than putting your faith in a friendly stranger. There is also the literal connection between the blindfolded people holding hands and trying to get to where they want to go, which happens on more than one occasion.

Bird Box
Bird Box is a creepy, rather than scary film, one that taps into the fear of the unknown and unseen, rather than falling into the common trap of showing too much of the threat. The suicides are both varied and realistic, but none felt overly gory or gratuitous, which is a nice surprise. I’m certainly a fan of gore, but when it’s kept on the down low, I can respect that too. The central “not being allowed to look” idea certainly contributed an extra dimension to the tension on screen, especially when people become separated, and the simple act of others looking for them becomes an almost impossible task. There’s that connection theme again.

I enjoyed Bird Box, the two or so hour run time didn’t feel like a drag, and that’s a rare thing for me when watching a film, so it must have had something about it. If you have Netflix and this pops up on your suggestion list, give it a watch.

P.S. I’d love to see a cross-over film where the entities of Bird Box team up with the creatures of A Quiet Place. They would each seem to cover the other’s weaknesses and between them, might actually achieve wiping out humanity, rather than falling prey to stubborn upstarts who don't know when they are licked. A Quiet Box. I like the sound of that.

Film Title: Bird Box
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich.
Director: Susanne Bier
Genre: Horror, Post-apocalyptic
Rating: 15
Released: Dec 2018 on Netflix