There’s a lot that can be said about director Susanne Bier’s ‘Bird Box’ and how it looks like it was shot for a cinematic theatrical release, with its incredible visuals of a city decimated by an unseen force to the isolation of a breathtaking forest where the film’s narrative takes us, and the endearing Sandra Bullock playing an unprepared maternal figure to two children who has to show tough love because survival in this world demands everything.
‘Bird Box’ is a drama and suspense thriller about Malorie, who finds herself pregnant during the attack of an unknown force that, if you look at them and see them, will force you to commit suicide.
It begins with the action at its height, as Malorie takes a young boy and girl into the woods and lays down the rules. And the most important part is the blindfolds. If your eyes are covered, you cannot see these creatures and they cannot make you kill yourself.
But then, there’s also the fact that you cannot see.
The narrative jumps back and forth from this very dramatic opening with Malorie taking the two children into the river to a supposed safe place that is secluded to where she was when it all began -- in the city and pregnant. The narrative jumps back and forth to create this character study of a woman who understands the importance of survival, and paints a picture of a person unprepared to be a mother.
Sandra Bullock gives another captivating performance, drawing from her dark side, and delivers a solid persona that is hard and tough and, at the beginning, can be quite unsympathetic. But Bullock has a way of drawing you in, and she can give in to a role so completely that you invest in her and this unusual and terrifying circumstance that she has found herself in.
There are going to be obvious comparisons with ‘A Quiet Place.’ Both films deal heavily with one of our senses -- ‘A Quiet Place’ deals with hearing and sound, while ‘Bird Box’ deals with sight. Both films are also character studies of families in times of great stress and very terrifying times. But the stark difference between the two movies is the approach to parenting. While ‘A Quiet Place’ deals with the strained relationships of an entire family as it strives to rebuild a broken world, ‘Bird Box’ is focused entirely on Malorie’s awakening to this world and her efforts to survive with the two children she has with her.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I don’t love it as much as I did ‘A Quiet Place’ but it is affecting and emotionally rewarding. It’s wonderfully shot and the performances are excellent, most especially from Bullock, John Malkovich, and Trevante Rhodes, and it has in equal measures thrills and drama.
There are some lapses in characterization -- where Malorie is first shown as an introvert then lately shifts very well into a sort of leadership role -- and the film’s non-linear storytelling gives away certain plot elements ahead of time but with all that aside, it is an enjoyable film that fits very well into watching it at home, in the dark alone or with your closest friends or family.
'Bird Box' is the kind of film that you can watch and enjoy and you’ll probably forget about when the next film comes along; but not every film has to be ‘A Quiet Place.’