Bird Box - 2018
Director(s): Susanne Bier
Writer(s): Eric Heiserer (screenplay) / Josh Malerman (book)
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Editor(s): Chris Dickens
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Lil Rel Howery, BD Wong and Rosa Salazar
Hollywood sometimes has a weird synergy when it comes to making films. Two movies come out in the same year with very similar plots, Armageddon and Deep Impact as an example. Creating a comparison, sometimes unfair, between the two of them, specially for the one that comes out second. This year we have A Quiet Place, with the plot of “don’t make noise or the monster will kill you.”, Now Bird Box with the plot of “don’t look of the monster will kill you.”. However, after watching the two movies, they cannot be further from each other. Let’s talk about it.
The story follows Malorie (Bullock) as she tries to survive in a dystopian future set off by mysterious creatures that feed on your darkest fears. The only way to avoid their powers is by not looking at them, and once a person does look at them, their violent and suicidal natures are elevated until they meet their untimely demise. While I said above that this film runs in the same vein as A Quiet Place, it sadly resembles more the critical and box office, 2008’s The Happening. The goofy looking deaths along with the horrible moments of CGI and green screen at the begging, brought horrible flashbacks to of a younger me realizing Shyamalan had jumped the shark. One could forgive the clunky setup and the goofy deaths if the dialogue and the character were compelling, but the generic nature and sometimes unintentionally funny dialogue hampered my overall enjoyment. These past few years have showcased intelligent horror films, in where the characters don’t act like complete and utter morons; Bird Box is not one of them.
Quick note: the other element this movie borrows from Shyamalan is from Signs, as this all-powerful beings cannot open doors or windows.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy a single moment of this film, as I did find some sequences to be clever and well written. However, the structure of the script made for an annoying watch as it telegraphs things from a mile away and you are left waiting for the character to catch up to you. Also, the way that it intercut between the future and the how we got there was a bit of a bore as the better story lived in the future, and the set up was too heavy on the runtime.
The acting is not great, but I don’t hold the actors fully accountable. The script doesn’t give them much to do, and the intercutting deflates many of the moments that are meant to impact the audience member. Sandra Bullock is the one that suffers the most from this effect, as we see her intercut from ambivalent pregnant lady to woman screaming orders at kids on a boat. While she does have the closest to a story arch, she still falls under the same treatment as the rest of the characters, generic soulless and simple there for the plot to progress. My favorite performance is Trevante Rhodes he made the best with what he had, even if it wasn’t that much. I did laugh way too much at Malkovich’s “are you a simpleton” line, as that is the ultimate Malkovich thing to say.
Bird Box is not a good movie, not an insultingly lousy film like The Happening, but it can be argued that they are closer to each other than the filmmakers ever will be willing to admit. While it has a great cast on paper, the script lets them down, along with the audience, delivering a bland story that never goes beyond your typical dystopian survival. There are far better options on Netflix right now, but I wouldn’t fault for giving it a shot solely based on its star power. Malkovich’s line is why I love movies.
Bird Box is currently playing on Netflix. It is not horrible, but it is far from good. Meh.
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