You’ll Want to Wear a Blindfold for This One
Where do I begin with this Mr. Magoo-ass movie? Like the vastly superior A Quiet Place, Bird Box belongs to the horror subgenre of “societies decimated by monstrous forces preying on a singular human sense.” In this case, we must use our sense of sight sparingly, lest roving specters drive us mad to the point of suicide.
I don’t think there’s a problem with this premise. You’d have to equally ding A Quiet Place if that were the case. But Bird Box lacks atmosphere and world building, as suffers from goofy executions of the moments intended to shock.
Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is a pregnant painter. That is seriously the only thing we know about her. Her sister (Sarah Paulson) is trying with all her might to get Malorie into the mothering spirit, but nothing doing. On a fateful trip to Malorie’s obstetrician, they start seeing news broadcasts about mass suicides in other parts of the world. Hilariously, Malorie’s like, “Eh, that’s in Russia. Not my problem.” Well, it definitely becomes her problem when the hospital they’re visiting implodes into spontaneous mass suicides. They try to escape into apocalyptic traffic chaos, you know the type, and it ends in tragedy.
BIRD BOX ★ (1/5 stars)
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Written by: Eric Heisserer and Josh Malerman
Starring: HAilee Steinfeld, Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, and John Malkovich
Running time: 124 min.
Malorie escapes into a nearby house where some other survivors are huddled, including a sexist jerk (John Malkovich) and an ex-military nice guy (Trevante Rhodes). They all reach the conclusion that they’ve become trapped and surrounded by some sort of herd of creatures upon which they must never ever lay eyes. Essentially, they’re all now forever roommates who can’t access the outside world without a blindfold.
That’s all fine, but the film’s narrative structure removes all tension before this by establishing in the opening scene that Malorie will end up alone with two children in an escape attempt on the nearby river. This is somewhat remedied by a promise that they’ll need to make it through some scary rapids, which will require someone to take off their blindfold, but at that point you’ll be too exhausted to care from playing the “how will this person die” game. Never mind that the actual rapids scene ends up betraying all of the dramatic setup.
Along the way, Bird Box provides plenty of asinine diversions. Take a supply-run road trip in a car with blacked out windows, using nothing but collision detection beeps. Shoot guns blindly at the wind. Watch Sandra Bullock call her two children “Boy” and “Girl” just to support the characterization that she really isn’t ready to be a mother and that this is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic movie where people can’t even be bothered to name their kids anymore. Marvel at gratuitous perspective shots from behind a blindfold.
At a few points watching Bird Box I started to wonder if it was some sort of meta-masterpiece that was trying to drive me to kill myself because I hadn’t been wearing a blindfold. I’m in the habit, however, of giving too much credit to bad films.
Bird Box hit Netlix on December 21st. I can’t recommend this one unless you’re an expert meme creator in need of some fodder.