This is the first review I’m doing for 2019, but it was actually the last movie I watched in 2018. I was able to sit down and watch Bird Box on New Years Eve. And even though everyone has already written their review, I wanted to get my thoughts out there as well.
There has been a lot of buzz around the Netflix original film, and for good reason. There isn’t much we know from the trailer, other than when you see the creatures, you see your greatest fear. And of course we get to see the now famous image of Sandra Bullock blindfolded and leading two blindfolded children.
I had high hopes going into this movie. The screenplay was written by Eric Heisserer, who also wrote the screenplay of one of my all-time favorite movies, Arrival.
*This review does contain some minor spoilers*
I love what this movie did with the creatures/entities. Within the horror/suspense genre, it can be hard to come up with something original, and I love that we never actually see them. It is established that whatever they are, when you see them you are either driven mad, or filled with sadness, or filled with terror and dread. Whatever it is, you are driven to kill yourself. Although we get glimpses of what they may look like (or at least what one character saw) through his drawings, I appreciate that we never really see them. They could be as simple as a floating orb, but it’s the magical essence that gives them their power.
Given the power the entities seem to have through seeing them, I also like that they apparently could not physically harm anyone. They are portrayed as talking to the characters (or at least projecting a sound into their head), imploring them to take the blindfolds off, but are unable to do it themselves.
Parts of this movie did remind me of more standard survival/horror movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Something terrible happened, we find a group of survivors who have found shelter. At some point, supplies start to run low so they have to go on a run and find a plethora of food in a shopping center. These plot points serve to help us learn about the characters as the story goes on, but they felt like something we’ve seen a dozen times before.
Another element I enjoyed were the characters who seemed to be unaffected by the creatures, or at least affected in a different way. Rather than going mad and killing themselves, they saw beauty and tried to get everyone else to see. For the most part they seemed malicious (along the river, in the woods), but the character who joined the survivors in the house seemed to truly want to show everyone what he considered beautiful. We never know why these people were not affected (other than a reference to a group of them being from a lunatic asylum), which is OK as far as I’m concerned.
Overall, this movie had a lot of original thinking, but also suffered from some repetition of horror tropes. There were some amazing performances from Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich, so I’m pushing this one up to a B.