Bird Box follows a woman, Malorie (Sandra Bullock), who must traverse a post-apocalyptic present day with two children. With a timeline that seesaws between past and present events, the journey jumps between a group of survivors and Malorie with the two children venturing on their own in the woods, attempting to avoid the unseen forces that have decimated humanity.
Bird Box Review
As we discussed on our podcast, Efrit and I were torn in our sentiment towards Bird Box. There were things we liked, there were things we didn't...but because I generally write the reviews, I have the advantage of making my thoughts more publicly available...so take that, Efrit!
I fell more on the side of not liking it than liking it. As a whole, I thought it was a decent film, but there were enough nit-picks in the creative process that I found myself often underwhelmed by the lack of originality and, as Efrit so aptly put it in the podcast, the "heavy-handedness".
There are many films I quickly compared Bird Box to because it shared uncanny similarities. One of which is a piece of cinema you never want to have your film compared to...The Happening. Because we never get a glimpse of the creatures in this film, the director chose to show their presence with the occasional shadow and a lot of leaves blowing around. The creatures occasionally interact with their environment, so harshly in the climax in fact that you wonder why they wouldn't push things around more often. There just isn't much that is inevitably offered by an invisible presence that makes you commit suicide. It gets old and tiresome rather quick.
It's worth mentioning that this incomprehensible fear and insanity that is caused by the unseen forces has this Lovecraftian dynamic that is better conceptually than it is executed. Yet, it's definitely worth commending, as it is delivered in such a way that the pill is much easier to swallow than the craziness that is In the Mouth of Madness.
It also shared some similarities with A Quiet Place. Efrit and I differ on how much it shares with the John Krasinksi film, to the point that I think Efrit doesn't understand where I'm coming from...I think the similarities between the two films go beyond "post-apocalyptic drama". They both hold family/parent-child dynamics as key plot points and base a good deal of the horror mechanic on disabling one of the five senses. The former I found too blunt and the latter somewhat unoriginal considering its release so soon after A Quiet Place. The fact it's a post-apocalyptic drama doesn't make it unoriginal, the fact many of its plot points are seemingly pulled from other recent films does.
But still, I usually enjoy these types of films a great deal, as they tackle elements of the human condition in extreme scenarios, usually with a fun mystery to solve related to the apocalyptic chaos. In this case, we get some bland, cliche characters with a description of the entity quickly unpacked in a short, five-minute guessing game that is oddly specific in its conclusion. It almost belongs in a comedy.
Netflix is still heading in the right direction with some fun concepts and content, but they haven't struck gold yet. It's hard to identify the problem, but I assume it'll all become clearer as the bar is continually raised. Bird Box didn't necessarily lower the bar, but it certainly didn't raise it.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 6/10