by Luce Allan
In Bird Box (2018)–a Netflix film that has created considerable buzz in pop culture and has spawned countless memes—a woman named Malorie (Sandra Bullock) attempts to find a safe haven for herself and her two children after mysterious supernatural creatures permeate the world and provoke almost all humans who see them to commit suicide. The only way for Malorie and her children to reach the sanctuary, however, is by rowing a boat through a dangerous river—and all passengers must be blindfolded throughout the journey in order to have a chance at survival.
Although Bird Box is the focal point of humorous memes and gifs, the film provides a deep and engaging horror experience. The visceral bleakness and terrifying lack of control that the characters experience allow the movie to become, arguably, what The Happening should have been ten years prior to this film’s release—a chilling glimpse into a supernatural apocalypse scaled down to a claustrophobic size. This claustrophobia is particularly felt during the flashback scenes, in which Malorie is forced to take cover from the sudden onslaught of supernatural entities with a small but often discordant group of strangers.
While the film jumps back and forth from the past and present, the momentum and sense of urgency never lessens, and allows the running time of the movie (which clocks in at a little over two hours) to be more of a delight than a burden. The emotion in the film is raw and complex as it permeates a range of subjects, from the varying levels of compassion that drive the interactions between survivors to the love for others that is strengthened through the loss of someone or something else. This psychological and emotional intensity is reinforced through Sandra Bullock’s remarkable performance as Malorie, which (once again) proves her skill at portraying a range of characters and emotions across movies with ease and excellence. The secondary cast is also compelling, with Trevante Rhodes and Sarah Paulson particularly standing out due to their powerful and sincere performances (which, due to the spoiler-filled nature of the character descriptions, will not be fleshed out in this review).
The only distinct flaw that Bird Box possesses is its slightly underdeveloped lore. The supernatural entities and the widespread damage that they can inflict are never explained in a concrete way—the audience only receives a brief series of hypotheses from one character about what these creatures might be, and these pieces of information are not discussed again. While it can be argued that the audience’s lack of knowledge about the film’s antagonists may heighten the suspense and terror in the movie, the opposite can also be true, and lend to a richer experience.
Overall, Bird Box is a top-notch horror film that generally lives up to its overwhelming hype.