the Little Red Reviewer

Bird Box (movie)

Posted on: December 22, 2018

Bird Box (movie)

Starring:  Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich

Directed by: Susanne Bier

Available on Netflix, Dec 21 2018

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Ya’ll know I don’t read or watch much horror. I’m not usually interested in being scared. Or maybe it’s that the things that fill me with indiscriminate terror are not the normal “scary” things?

 

Anyway, a number of years ago, Josh Mallerman’s debut horror thriller Bird Box made quite a splash. The jist of the story was If You See Them, You Will Die.   Not like “see it” like in The Ring movies, but if you looked at whatever this terrifying creature was, the sight of it would make you kill yourself. Was it the horror of what you’d seen? Did the creature brainwash you?  Who knows, and no one was going to find out. Bird Box is the scariest book I have ever read. You can read my review here.

 

Last year, I’d heard they were making a movie of Bird Box.  The first time i saw a preview for A Quiet Place, I hoped it was a preview for the movie Bird Box.  Obviously it wasn’t, not enough blindfolds.

 

A few weeks ago, I learned Bird Box would be on Netflix, and today, I got to watch it.

 

It’s been four years since I read the book, and to this day I remember being absolutely terrified by that book.   Surprising nobody, I watched the movie in broad daylight, with all the lights on.

 

First thoughts:

Sandra Bullock? I love her, but isn’t Malorie supposed to be a 20-something?

 

Wow 40-something Malorie, you are really, really unlikeable. What the fuck is your problem?  Do you have to be a bitch all the damn time?

 

John Malkovich, yeah! Haven’t seen him in ages, I love him!

 

Rest of the movie thoughts:

Just like in the book,  the movie gets going fast, and you’ll barely have time to breathe in the first half.  Malorie, newly single, isn’t excited about being pregnant. Her sister Jessica takes her to her doctor appointments, and Malorie is basically in denial that in a few months she will be bringing a new life into the world.

 

On the day Malorie begins to just maybe be ok with being pregnant, the world ends. Cars are on fire, people are running, there are explosions. Jessica walks in front a speeding bus.  A woman saves Malorie’s life by inviting her into a suburban house. Seconds later that same woman calmly gets into a burning car, and sits there, burning to death, while her husband watches from the house.   Go ahead and read that last sentence again, would you? I want this to sink in.

 

This is how the world ends. Invisible creatures that convince us to kill ourselves. The only way to survive, is to stop yourself from seeing them.  But if you do survive, then what? Do you just starve to death? How long will you wait before you just say Screw It, and go out and stare death in the face?

 

The choice to cast nearly everyone as middle aged adults made more sense when Olympia showed up. Young, spoiled, careless, Olympia looks like a walking advertisement for Pampered Chef or Tupperware parties. She knows she’s completely out of her league as soon as she meets the other people in the house.  Everyone else in the house has life experience, they know the same golden oldie songs, they’ve lost people. They view Olympia as a liability. You can see in Olympia’s face, as she looks around the room, that she knows she’s a liability.

Joyful at seeing another pregnant woman, Olympia decides that she and Malorie should be friends. Malorie, who is introverted, angry, and rather unlikeable, actually does make a halfhearted attempt to not be an asshole! I was proud of her!

 

Okay, so why is Malorie such a bitch? It’s been more than a few year since I read the book, I don’t remember how much characterization there was, I don’t remember if people talked about their childhood. There are a few quiet scenes in the movie where Malorie and Jessica, or Malorie and Tom, talk about their childhoods.  Here’s why Malorie is such a bitch: She’s just like her father. Even if someone is barely in your life, you can’t fully escape their personality, their mannerisms. She is exactly like her father – cold, determined, protective, and has no idea how to tell someone she loves them. In fact, I don’t think Malorie (or her dad) even have a Love Language.  And here’s the important part: she knows she’s just like him.

 

A poor choice is made, and pretty sure it is only Malorie, Tom, and two screaming infants alive in the house.

 

Years go by. These children have never been outside without blindfolds. They have never seen the sky, or clouds, or played on swings or climbed a tree. They have never seen a school bus. Or other children. The scene where Malorie finds stale PopTarts in a house they are raiding, and gives the poptarts to the kids and says “This is what Strawberry tastes like” nearly broke my heart.

 

Malorie is so incapable of connecting with another person, so incapable of allowing another person to be close to her, that she calls the children Boy and Girl. If she names them, she will come to love them.  And why name or love something that the world is trying to tear away from you, every day? Is Malorie a good, protective mom? Is she a shitty mom? Is she selfish and mean? Is she doing the right things to keep these kids alive?     Everytime she looks at Girl, does she worry that this Girl will be just as soft, spoiled, and ultimately worthless as her mother was? Is that fair?  I don’t think Mallerman set out to write a horror novel that was secretly a meditation on parenting, but film director Susanne Bier sure comes close.

 

One evening, Tom is telling the kids about his childhood, going to family reunions, and he talks about playing with his cousins and that there were so many kids, just playing. Once of the children says “There are other children in the world?”   That did break my heart.

 

 

Tom and Malorie hear about a safe community. The only way to get there is to row down the river for two days. When you hit the rapids, you know you’re almost there. These rapids are tricky to navigate, someone will have to take off their blindfold to guide the boat through the rapids.

 

For five years, being outside without a blindfold has meant death.  The only way to reach possible safety is to take off your blindfold.

 

The movie Bird Box was absolutely fantastic. Just as tension filled as I remember the book being, characters who know they are probably going to die,  and terrifying unknown baddies. Remember the movie Gravity? Were you annoyed by Sandra Bullock and her character in that movie? I sure was. She is redeemed in  Bird Box.

 

I’ve watched the movie, and had a chance to think about it. It is full dark outside. There has got to be a nightlight (or 50 of them) in this house somewhere.

 

 

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3 Responses to "Bird Box (movie)"

I had a few problems with the movie. Mainly the drive to the grocery store using only gps with the roads full of obstacles. Also never really found it scary. And Sandra Bullock playing a pregnant mother at 54? And a few others but I don’t want to give away too much.

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yeah, i had a lot of trouble buying into her character, but i was OK with it by the end of the movie. There is the drive to the store in the book, I’m trying to remember if they use GPS or not, from what I remember, they just drive like 5 mph and hit every single curb.

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I quite enjoyed it; I read the book a few years ago too and (unsurprisingly) I feel like I preferred the book to the film, but I think they did a good job with the adaptation.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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