Updated: Jan 18, 2019
Author: Olivia Branan
Photo courtesy of TechCrunch.
“Bird Box,” a Netflix original movie, has risen in global popularity after its premiere Dec. 13. Within its first week on the streaming platform, it reached 45 million views. The film centers around a woman named Malorie (Sandra Bullock) who struggles to survive in a world plagued by an unseen force that causes people to commit suicide. The only way to survive is to avoid looking at the creature, presenting numerous conflicts for the characters in the movie.
The setting of “Bird Box” switches back and forth between past and present; the present being Malorie on a rowboat with two unnamed children and the past focusing on a diverse household of strangers brought together in the hopes of safety. Although some of these characters proved to be essential in their own ways, others were lacking in depth and almost unnecessary. Felix (Machine Gun Kelly), the druggie, and Lucy (Rosa Salazar), the cop-in-training, form an ironic couple, but their presence in the plot was neither interesting nor impactful. They contributed very little to the household itself and ended up running away anyway with no explanation for the audience; it felt as if they were a cheesy couple thrown in last-minute to add even more chaos to the story.
However, there were certainly characters that the audience could identify with. Take Douglas (John Malkovich) for example: everyone in the house, including Malorie, disliked the pessimistic drunk. After an intense conversation, the two seem to find common ground, and Malorie even admits that she sees her father in him. Douglas, though he comes across as the most cynical and difficult person of the group, ends up risking his life and ultimately dying for the good of the others, helping viewers empathize more with his character.
Although “Bird Box” is a thriller, it definitely has its fair share of sappiness. Malorie meets her love-interest, Tom (Trevante Rhodes), in the house, and the two quickly become allies. Their on-screen romance is short-lived and mostly insignificant to the plot, but the pair have an impact on each other and the people around them. The “present-day” scenes of the movie begin five years after Malorie and Tom narrowly escape the unseen creature. They take care of Malorie’s 5-year-old son who she calls “Boy” and another 5-year-old girl named “Girl.” Tom and Malorie play the roles of “good cop/ bad cop” with the children; while he tells them stories of his childhood, she rarely acknowledges them. Malorie is cold and harsh to the children, which only worsens through the duration of the movie. During Malorie’s pregnancy in the pre-apocalyptic world, she refuses to admit she is carrying a child, and her detachment from the children becomes a major issue throughout their voyage to find a safe haven. This denial, though likely frustrating to the audience, is an essential part of her character.
This is certainly not a film where one can expect all loose ends to be tied and for everything to come together. Many questions remain unanswered by the end of the film, leaving some things for the viewers to interpret. It was never explained why “crazy” people were immune to the effects of the mysterious presence, or what the presence actually was. However, after the gruesome, relentless tale came a glimmer of hope for Malorie; not only did she find the safe community she was in search of, but she also came to accept the children as her own.
“Bird Box” is not the typical post-apocalyptic thriller. It consists of a diverse list of characters ranging from surprising antagonists, intense personalities and the simple but necessary comic relief. The movie contains drama, romance and horror, entertaining a variety of audiences. Already an interesting plot, “Bird Box” brings about a complexity that has, with good reason, drawn an enormous following. For those who have yet to watch it: you may be surprised; this film is a thriller and a tear-jerker all at once.