Arts movie review

Seeing is believing

‘Bird Box’ is somewhat refreshing in the horror genre

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Malorie (Sandra Bullock) leads the way to safety with Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair).
Courtesy of Netflix

Bird Box
Directed by Susanne Bier
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on the novel by Josh Malerman
Starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery
Rated R, Available on Netflix

Most horror movies nowadays tend towards cheap jumpscares, gloomy backdrops, and unrealistically funny supernatural forces. However, there are some that still strive to breathe life into the genre in either innovative ways or more horrifying ways or a combination of both. Such movies from this past year include Hereditary and A Quiet Place, and it’s nice to know the year ended on a pretty good note with Bird Box.

Bird Box is yet another post-apocalyptic movie, featuring an invasive species that attacks through your sight. If you look at it, you’re overcome by a crippling sadness and will do everything in your power to kill yourself. The film opens on a woman and her two children. After hearing of a safehouse located down the river from their location, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) sternly lectures Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) on the rules of travel in order to ensure their survival. Some may believe that this is a harsh way to treat the children, but it’s Malorie’s own way of showing them that she loves them and cares for them. She’s hard on them because she wants them to live.

The film then continues to tell two different stories to give viewers a better idea of the world state. One story is Malorie traveling down the river with Boy and Girl to alleged safety. The other is of Malorie’s growth as the unknown creatures invade the U.S., and the world goes to shit, eventually leading to her river trek.

Admittedly, the premise of the film is not original. Monsters attack the earth, and now people have to figure out a clever way to survive against said monsters, but the cast provides a compelling performance that carries the overdone post-apocalyptic movie trope.

The film is also more thoughtful than your typical jumpscare-fest horror movie. Malorie is formally introduced as a pregnant reclusive artist. Over the course of the film, Malorie’s cold demeanor eventually falls away as she begins receiving love and starts caring for some of her fellow survivors. For example, Olympia (Danielle Macdonald) is another pregnant woman who finds her way to the house that Malorie and a number of other survivors stay in shortly after the invasion hits California. At first, Malorie tries to keep her distance from the slightly annoying, chatterbox Olympia. However, it’s hard to ignore the connection between the two, seeing as how they’re both pregnant; gradually, Malorie does grow to care for the soft-hearted Olympia. Malorie reassures Olympia when she’s scared or feels she is a burden to the other survivors. This culminates to the established trust the two end up building, with Olympia asking Malorie to care for her child if something happens to her.

Overall, the plot is pretty sound. It makes as much sense as it should. It’s also nice to note that not everyone is a complete idiot when it comes to surviving, so it makes the pre-river storyline more bearable to watch as everyone works together to live as long as they possibly can. Of course, it isn’t a hardcore survival movie if there isn’t that one weak link (or a few of them) among those with sensible heads on their shoulders, but the well-planned complexity of the characters saves viewers from groaning out loud in frustration. Mistakes will be made and lives will be lost, but sensibly-written characters paired with the cast’s believable acting make Bird Box a decent watch.