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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review: Bird Box

Director: Susanne Bier
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
Year: 2018

With the review of “A Quiet Place” still fresh in my head, I went on to see “Bird Box”. Why do I mention “A Quiet Place” in this review? Because the premise of both movies is similar, and it plays against the originality of “Bird Box” and to a certain point makes it predictable. This does not mean that it is a bad movie but being launched with less than a year of difference makes it feel like a copy and takes away much of the enjoyment it could have offered. In “Bird Box”, an epidemic of mass suicides is spread around the world. The reason is a supernatural being that, when looked at, makes people want to commit suicide or turns them into sociopaths that force others to look at the beings and take their lives. A mother and their two sons face a great challenge to reach a safe place and survive this epidemic.

Even though, this movie has a lot of positive points. The brilliant acting of Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”, “Speed”) is enough to carry the whole movie in her shoulders, without taking away from the rest of the cast, which makes a wonderful job. I was also impressed by the acting of John Malkovich (“Being John Malkovich”, “The Man in the Iron Mask”), who makes you love and hate his character with ease; one that is hostile but is usually right about what he says. The visual section is favorable, with impressive views and a lot of simplicity and mystery when presenting the presence of the supernatural beings on screen. Like what happens in “A Quiet Place”, the story is presented from the perspective of the protagonist, which leaves plenty of unanswered questions. While some may consider that this is a negative aspect, I consider that it is a positive one, as it makes it easier for the viewer to sink into the story, just that in “Bird Box’ it is not as great as how it was on “A Quiet Place”.

At first glance, this may look like another movie about aliens, supernatural forces, or something similar, but the plot of “Bird Box” is way deeper than that. From the opening scenes, there are glimpses of the social issues that the protagonist faces. She herself, through a painting, shows that one of her main worries is the inability of people to connect, something she suffers and understands is happening with her unborn child. Through the whole movie, Malorie is forced to face that fear, trusting strangers to assure her survival, as well as making decisions that risk her own life for the sake of others. One of the characters hypothesizes that the supernatural force takes the shape of your greater fears and losses, and this is exactly what Malorie faces throughout the movie.  The outcome of the movie, which I will try to not ruin in favor of those who have not yet seen it, is the perfect metaphor for the result of having faced those fears. Also, the title “Bird Box” has literal and metaphoric implications. Throughout the movie, Malorie and her sons travel with a bird box, since they can sense the supernatural force and serve as a warning when they are close, but the title also serves as a metaphor of being confined by your fears, a topic that is explored in most of the movie.

One of the major negative points of the movie is that it is presented in retrospective, jumping in periods of five years. This, even when it may seem interesting, breaks with the flow of the story and with what is happening in each part of it, which interrupts the tension buildup. Also, if you see the movie from the perspective of a horror movie, something the promotion suggested, it leaves a bad taste, as it moves more on the side of a science fiction movie with some elements of horror movies and a lot of philosophy.

To me, “Bird Box” had much more potential than what was shown on screen. I don’t know if the novel in which it is based does better justice (“Bird Box’ by Josh Malerman). The main issue with this movie lies in how the story is carried and how it never reaches that horror movie status that the promotion let us think it would reach. Having said that, it was an enjoyable movie, in which the acting and the audiovisuals stand out. It was also interesting how the story was used as a metaphor for the life and fears of the protagonist, even when I felt it the flow needed more working out.

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