500 Days Of Film Reviews Bird Box Starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich
When a mysterious force attacks the world’s population, only one thing is certain: if you see it, you take your life. Facing the unknown, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) finds love, hope and a new beginning only for it to unravel into chaos.
Now she must flee with two children down a treacherous river to perhaps the one place left that may offer sanctuary. But to survive, they'll have to undertake the perilous journey blindfolded.
Is It Any Good?
The loss of any sense - be it sight, sound, taste or smell - is an undeniably scary prospect. Twin that with the need to protect those more vulnerable than yourself from a deadly, unknown predator and you have all the ingredients for a tense and compelling film.
A Quiet Place, of course, explored this chilling concept with regards to the loss of sound. Susanne Bier’s film, meanwhile, focuses on the dangers inherent in sight. Adapted from Josh Malerman’s novel of the same name, Bird Box follows one woman’s attempt to survive a truly horrific situation.
While not quite as thrilling as John Krasinski’s debut film, Bird Box is - thanks in large part to a tremendous performance from Sandra Bullock - a tense, gripping and compelling horror gem.
The story unfolds in two interwoven timelines. The first traces the early days of the mysterious unraveling of human society. A pregnant Malorie finds emergency shelter in a house filled with other bewildered survivors, each struggling to decide who they can rely on and how they can go forward.
The second timeline brings the story forward five years into the “present” tense, as Malorie and two young children commandeer a tiny rowboat, blindfolded, and travel down a harrowing river - driven by the faint promise of a place of safety.
These two timelines tell us that Malorie will eventually be parted from her fellow survivors - although we do not know how or what will become of them all. Following the film's nightmarish beginning, this knowledge adds to Bird Box’s tension-fuelled atmosphere - particularly as we genuinely care about (at least some) of these survivors.
Within an impressive cast, Trevante Rhodes gives a stand out performance as Tom - Malorie’s closest ally in the house. Meanwhile, John Malkovich is a welcome screen presence as he is, well, very John Malkovich in the role of Douglas.
The horror genre is, of course, no stranger to exploiting our unease at the prospect of sense loss. Over the years films such as Wait Until Dark, Blindness, Julia’s Eyes and All I See Is You have all explored our fear of blindness.
In Bird Box, the very act of seeing is incredibly dangerous - potentially leading to instant death. However, we do not know what evil has descended upon the world. Is it a demon, a hallucination or an alien? In a genius move, Bier keeps her “monsters” hidden. There is no (potentially disappointing) third act reveal and the movie is far stronger as a result.
“When I’ve watched scary movies, I’ve always been most terrified right before I saw what the threat was,” the director explains. “I wanted to tap into that very powerful feeling you have when there’s a palpable threat but you aren't sure what it is yet - and sustain that feeling. For me, that’s the most harrowing part of fear and suspicion.”
Thanks to the recent release of horror films such as A Quiet Place, Hereditary, Suspiria and The Endless, we now hold our horror movies to a very high standard. While not quite meeting this standard, Bird Box is a tense and enjoyable film with a powerhouse central performance - a film well worth removing your blindfold to watch.
Have you seen Bird Box?
If you have, what did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments section below or let’s chat over on Twitter. You can find me @500DaysOfFilm.