Keep your eyes closed, unless you want to lose your mind is the major tenet of the 2018 film “Bird Box,” which was released on Netflix mid-December. While it has received a huge amount of views, it left me with a sense of disappointment when I was hoping for a true horror film.
The main cast features Sandra Bullock as Malorie and Trevante Rhodes as Tom as they attempt to protect their two children, Boy and Girl, played by Julian Edwards and Vivien Lyra Blair. The popular film was based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel of the same name.
This Netflix original is split into two main segments, with the primary action taking place in the present while the rest of the events of the film are shown in a series of flashbacks. This split made the film confusing to follow and honestly made both segments feel disconnected from the other.
Bullock, whose character is a soon-to-be mother in the flashbacks, is trying to make sure her children survive the creatures forcing people to commit suicide. While her performance has been heavily applauded, the overall film felt like an afterthought not even Bullock’s amazing acting skills could save.
The concept of the invisible killer has been done numerous times in films like “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious,” but “Bird Box” tries to do something different. Instead of it being more like a typical slasher film, it was more along the lines of psychological horror.
Psychological horror is an interesting genre and is rather entertaining when done correctly. However, “Bird Box” did not advance the genre to another level, and if anything, set the genre back.
The film holds a 63 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a common consensus among critics is it did not live up to its full potential. I agree with that statement; it does not deliver in keeping the viewer trapped in a feeling of suspense until the end of the film.
Director Susanne Bier attempted to bring the suspense, but ended up with a lackluster film when compared to films with similar concepts like “Hush” and “A Quiet Place.” While Bullock and Rhodes bring credibility to the film, they were unable to give the audience realistic characters who could easily be connected to everyday life.
Even while the main characters were developed throughout the film, I would have liked to have seen more of Sarah Paulson, who played Malorie’s sister. She was killed rather early in the film, and while it is in line with the book, I was left wanting more of Paulson.
I would have appreciated a kill that was more than just getting hit by a truck and literally being taken out with the garbage. Paulson is known for playing major characters and has been a staple in the horror television genre for the last eight years.
It was disappointing to see her acting abilities being underutilized in what was supposed to be a blockbuster horror film.
The overall cinematography was the only saving grace save for Bullock’s acting, and even it could not make up for the lackluster script and poor character development.
However, what upset me the most was the lack of knowledge in horror movies, particularly when Gary showed up at the survivor’s house. It is literally ruled one of horror--do not trust strangers. This resulted in me screaming at my computer screen and berating the characters for their stupidity.
The ending of the film with Malorie and her children was rather predictable. It could have been handled a lot better and given more closure for the characters we got to know throughout the whole film. It felt like a sloppy ending and not one that could have actually brought the storyline to a complete close.
Overall, “Bird Box” was a mixed bag of highs and lows that left me wanting a more developed film. While the film has been applauded for its unique take on horror, it did not live up to the hype.