Bird Box Review: Another post-apocalyptic movie that takes from other films rather than gives audiences something fresh
Netflix’s new film, Bird Box, from Oscar winning writer/director Susanne Bier features a big cast and has big ambitions but falls completely flat in its Sci-fi Horror concepts that are far from original.
It basically follows a narrative of a group of survivors, with special focus on a pregnant woman (Sandra Bullock), as they attempt to survive against an invisible foe. This new entity can cause people to commit suicide upon looking at it and seemingly has no weakness or chance of being defeated. With the odds completely against them and the only way for them to survive is to blind themselves with blindfolds, this group of survivors must find refuge before they succumb to the entity’s sight.
Now, if you feel like this all sounds familiar to you, don’t worry because it should. Bird Box basically feels almost exactly like films like A Quiet Place, The Mist, most zombie movies, pretty much anything related to Slender Man, and plenty of other Sci-fi Horror films. However, there is no film that this feels more like than M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 piece of garbage known as The Happening. Don’t get me wrong, Bird Box is nowhere near as bad, but it’s similarities are incredibly clear.
There are some things, though, that Bird Box brings that make it not a total loss. The cast is filled with some great talent in acting veterans, like Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich, as well as some solid new talent, like Trevante Rhodes, Lil Rey Howery, and Machine Gun Kelly. With this mix, there’s some solid amount of personality given to each character and some solid performances.
There’s also some interesting concepts put into film and relatively creates an intense and horrifying world for viewers to explore. I loved the tenseness of some scenes, especially when they had to drive a car blindly to get supplies, and the genuine calmness in the opening as people commit suicide. The calming look that Sarah Paulson’s Jessica gives before stepping in front of truck or seeing a woman just naturally step into a burning car is truly disturbing to see.
The film also has some interesting moments that lets viewers into how these characters learn how to survive. The only problem is: it takes over an hour to actually get to any of it. The rest of the film is filled with predictable story beats, annoying characters that are just tropes seen throughout the genre, and unoriginal ideas. While the performances from the cast are mostly fine, the characters are written so poorly that it literally feels like they are all just ripped out of other movies. The character run-down can basically be summed up like this: pregnant mom (A Quiet Place), generic caring guy (let’s just say Dawn of the Dead remake), asshole character (just pick a zombie movie as I’m sure there is one there), someone who spouts about religion (The Mist or This is the End), and kids (there’s always kids).
They are also given lines that are unmemorable and don’t bring much to any of the scenes. There is a lack of development for these characters and they even come off as dumb and unlikable most of the time. They are especially dumb as they constantly feel like they make decisions only to further the plot rather than to competently survive. Why couldn’t they just drive back to the house to bring everyone into the convenience store instead of leaving them there? Why does Rhodes’ Tom decide to sacrifice himself rather than try to run with his family?
The film also kind of ruins its own story as it basically telegraphs everything that happens early and leaves very little suspense. Throughout the film, viewers constantly cut back and forth between Bullock as the entities begin to attack and six years later as she and some children attempt to reach a safe haven. It kind of spoils who is basically going to die throughout the film and leaves little to be surprised. It also doesn’t give much to care about these characters and feel like they are just there to add bodies to the kill count in very unimaginative death scenes.
Not to mention, the film doesn’t utilize its entities to be anything frightening. Their daunting appearance eventually loses its tenseness once you realize that all you see of them is leaves rustling and sometimes black shadows. There isn’t even much found out about them and it’s never even fully explained why birds can sense them. It pretty much just hopes that people will buy into the lore that doesn’t exist and move past the moments that make absolutely no sense.
At least Bird Box is a Netflix film, so people don’t have to spend money on a movie ticket to see it. It’s not a total waste of time thanks to some decent performances and concepts that could have been made better, but it basically becomes an okay watch that is without a doubt forgettable. It’s basically just another post-apocalyptic story that feels like it just takes pieces from far superior films (expect The Happening) and never takes advantage of its good ideas.