Bird Box is a high concept, horror thriller about an unusual apocalypse. The world spirals into chaos when people start committing suicide in horrific ways. The bloody carnage preceded by seeing mysterious entities, which invoke your deepest fears. Bird Box sells the atmospheric chills. It's creepy as hell and well acted, but takes a tremendous suspension of disbelief. The initial premise is intriguing, then strains credulity from that point on. Bird Box will be compared to A Quiet Place. It's not in that league of greatness, but enjoyable enough to warrant a recommendation.
Bird Box takes place in three different time periods. We first meet Malorie (Sandra Bullock) as a blindfolded, gun-toting, hardened survivor. She's about to embark on a perilous journey with two small children, boy (Julian Edwards) and girl (Vivien Lyra Blair). She warns them that they will be killed if they do not listen to her. They must keep their blindfolds on all times. They must follow her directions verbatim. The children are oddly calm. They are aware of the dangers that await.
Malorie is then seen as pregnant in the past. She and her sister (Sarah Paulson) are getting ready to go for a prenatal check up. Malorie has not been watching television. She's unaware of the suicide epidemic in Europe. The sisters soon learn that the threat has arrived. A kind stranger (Trevante Rhodes) and irascible homeowner (John Malkovich) give unexpected shelter.
The last time frame is the journey itself. It is every bit as dangerous as predicted. Malorie is tenacity incarnate. Her fierce will taking on visible and invisible threats. She remembers the lessons learned to this point, the people who influenced her, and her reasons for the trip. Their treasured companions, a box with three birds. They are the keys to survival against the merciless unseen threat.
Bird Box preys on your primal fears. The idea that a mere glance could lead to death is employed effectively. The characters come up with various tactics to survive without sight. They are hit and miss. The entities are more sophisticated than expected. Threats are harder to gauge. These are the best parts of the film. Acclaimed Danish director Susanne Bier (In a Better World, The Night Manager) works the visceral aspects. We see Malorie at three different stages. Her story is intricate. She goes from pregnant and vulnerable to a lethal protector. Sandra Bullock is the backbone of this film. She's in almost every scene. Bird Box works because we believe her performance.
My logic alarm rang constantly. Bird Box, which will stream on Netflix, goes off the rails too often. Some of the things the characters do while blindfolded is ludicrous. I won't get into details, but it's pretty hard to swallow. Granted, this is a horror flick about invisible monsters; but the grain of salt becomes a mountain. I can't walk to my kitchen in the dark without tripping. The characters become more experienced as the plot progresses, but they're not using the force to survey their environments. Running around unfamiliar woods with your eyes closed isn't possible, especially when being chased. Susanne Bier needed to pull back some of the blindfolded theatrics.
Bird Box is currently in limited theatrical release. Netflix will stream globally on Friday, December 21st. I enjoyed the film, but acknowledge its significant flaws. Sandra Bullock delivers another solid heroine. Bird Box will work if you check your brain and accept the concept at the face value.