Bird Box (2018) movie review
Bird Box stars Sandra Bullock as a woman trying to make it to safety with her two children after an apocalyptic event driven by sight alone strikes the world. The Netflix original premiered sometime around Christmas and I guess has become a complete cultural phenomenon or something. Look all I know is that I didn’t know the film existed, then suddenly everyone was asking me if I had seen it. I have, and it is not worth all the talk.
To be totally fair, I knew I wasn’t going to like Bird Box, and I went in skeptical. Overall though, I didn’t hate the film. As a ‘sense’ horror film, it does a solid job. The premise, sounding similar to horror films like The Happening (2008), It Comes At Night (2017), and A Quiet Place (2018), proves early on that it can stand on its own enough to justify a separate existence from those films. Like those purses made of Capri Sun packets. Capri Sun is great, but hey, I guess a purse is fine too. However l have to make the observation that since the film is so close to several similar ones, especially A Quiet Place, it definitely hurts the idea’s claim to originality. Honestly though, if this film had a lesser known star and flew under the radar, I would not lament not seeing it, as very little holds up as memorable or iconic.
I almost had the idea to write this review blindfolded, but I read that the Bird Box Challenge is apparently not a good thing to do. Who would have guessed!?
My biggest gripe with the film isn’t the clichés or suspension of belief, both of which are prevalent. It is the unnecessary padding of the runtime for the sake of a ‘slow burn’ approach. You could easily cut 30 minutes from the film, take out an odd story plot that goes nowhere, and change the ending for a more concise, tension-building film. The pacing hurts the tone, as intense moments feel obvious or dull, and the out-of-order narrative spoils just about everything. Bird Box never caught me off guard, and honestly never scared me. I’m not saying that to sound macho; I couldn’t sit still during more than one horror film this year. Bird Box simply isn’t scary, isn’t very engaging, and isn’t as focused as it wants to be. On top of that, the ending absolutely pushes the boundary of believability, feeling much more tacky than compelling.
It isn’t all bad though, as the film on a technical level does entertain! The visual style is sharp, and the choice to show or not show certain elements is not only competent, but works well for selling the threatening scenario the characters are in. The pulsating score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is great of course, and the overall sound design of the film was surprisingly strong. The cast does a good job, including solid performances from Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, and BD Wong, among others. While Bullock’s protagonist Malorie is the only truly fleshed out character in the film, her story arc is fairly interesting; arguably the most engaging story aspect of the film.
In a setting where I felt like going through spoilers or rants, I could definitely go on about Bird Box; however here, I just don’t think the film is worth even a review so in depth. The movie is fine. It is well made, holds a few unique elements, and does a solid job at entertaining with its aesthetic design, solid performances, and overall execution of a solid concept. However if you stop to think about it even for a moment, gaping continuity questions, predictable writing, and recycled story beats stand out above the film’s stronger traits. Bird Box is a casually entertaining horror film, but a mild one at that. So if Hereditary was too much for you, and you don’t care about those better films (except The Happening) I listed, check out Bird Box. Honestly, I’d rather watch an entertainingly bad film like The Happening film over this one. 5/10
-review by Ryan Prince