director: Susanne Bier
writer: Eric Heisserer
starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes and John Malkovich
genre: Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
released on Netflix: 21 December 2018 (USA)
The world is always a buzz for the next hyped release on Netflix and this past month it was ‘Bird Box’ that had Sandra Bullock headlining a film that could have easily been released in cinemas as many others on the platform, but thankfully wasn’t. The film itself isn’t bad in terms of production value or performances and even the story progression isn’t the worst you will find, but its core concept of a spirit force/cloud that’s come to doom us all is too much to swallow.
Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is soon to have a child when all hell breaks loose and people around the world start committing mass suicide due to an unknown force. She will have to band together with other survivors to avoid the threat and fend off also from other groups of individuals that are impervious to it.
Watching the film I thought specifically of these four films ‘The Happening’, ‘A Quiet Place’, ‘World War Z’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake for various reasons good and bad, but most importantly due to the fact they all have more or less the same concept of a danger, virus or force arriving to Earth and creating a dystopian reality where the human race cant immediately fix or know 100% the answer behind it. Each of these films had on different levels some positive aspects to them (less so for ‘The Happening’ & ‘World War Z’) and some of that has to do with their level of focus and presentation of the threat, while also the belief that something that preposterous could happen. Personally, I would say this film is closer to ‘The Happening’ where people wont accept the concept and outcome willy-nilly. In ‘The Happening'‘ case it was the “nature” phenomenon and here it is a unspecified cloud force that is making individuals kill themselves (expect the mentally insane), but cant go through door holes or chimneys mind you, but can have effect through cameras. Additionally, it doesn’t matter also what social commentary and metaphors you could possibly take from it, because the core concept of cloud/spirit that can’t go through homes is silly and actually more ridiculous then dead bodies coming back to life or weird creatures that are highly sensitive to loud sounds.
Moving on, its unfortunate that this film’s concept is so shallow as the rest of the film isn’t as bad, with a decent arc for its lead character played by Sandra Bullock and with decent performances all around. Sandra Bullock’s character goes through an interesting arc where she doesn’t want kids, but through loss and adversary comes to accept their existence and her role as a mother. Sandra Bullock is also great in her role as a pregnant mother in a dystopian world, which makes you wonder how come we haven’t seen her in more of these type of roles in the past. Furthermore, her character hits all the right beats by having her confront characters that either reflect her own situation, her past and the potential of a different life if this horrendous future reality didn’t exist.
Finally, a lot of fuss has gone down over the ending and that its not as dark as in the books, but the one in the film works fine and again is all for the main character of Mallory played by Sandra Bullock. And while I do acknowledge the meanings and symbolism’s behind it, the concept will not stop bugging me as I was enjoying the film every-time we were alone with Mallory and her trying to survive with the group (mostly in the mid section of the film) or her family of sorts (towards the end). Which makes you wonder how come they didn’t leave the concept a little bit more ambiguous or gave a more of a realistic supernatural twist to it, but then again that’s asking for too much and a different approach to the film entirely.
While there may be things in ‘Bird Box’ to like, its difficult to recommend and enjoy for the most part due to its concept. Ultimately, its a story better suited for a book where you can imagine what you want and accept due to its evil spirit/force. Yet again, casual viewing of this film on Netflix doesn’t hurt and as I keep saying like a broken record, it makes these films their saving grace as Netflix is good value for money.