Movie Review: Bird Box

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Movie Review: Bird Box

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Unless you’ve been living inside of a box for the last month and a half, you’ve probably heard of Netflix’s newest original movie, Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes. Set in an apocalyptic future where humanity is being overwhelmed by an unknown deadly monster, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) must get her children to safety in a world that is set out against her. Fair warning, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, there will be major spoilers ahead.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a problem with Netflix’s ‘cookie cutter’ formula for creating original movies. Complete with snarky dialogue, poorly thought-out world design, and passable cinematography, Netflix original series always tend to be more hard to watch than entertaining, at least in my opinion. How does Bird Box stack up with the rest of the Netflix stockpile? I’d say that it’s not much different than the formula I’ve come to expect. Most of the dialogue between characters in the movie feels like it came straight from the script of Thirteen Reasons Why, and given that this is supposed to be a ‘thriller’, the cheesy dialogue takes a lot away from the experience.

While Sandra Bullock does a good job of making you feel for her in the movie, the supporting cast, such as her children, were more annoying to me than easy to empathize with.

Another thing that bothered me about the movie was the seemingly little amount of thought that was put into it. While some thriller movies flesh out their characters and explain the world that they’re living in, Bird Box fails on both regards. Take, for example, the cast of characters that Malorie meets at the beginning of the film. Douglas (John Malkovich) is a cynical old man that’s angry at the world after the death of his wife. Olympia (Danielle Macdonald) is a character with almost no development whatsoever, whose only purpose is to give birth and die less than five minutes later. Heck, even the two children that Malorie is walking around with are named ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’, and that’s about the extent of their characters. All of the people in this movie are extremely one-note and boring, and the dialogue that they’re given doesn’t help. If the characters in a movie aren’t going to have any depth, what’s the point of them being in the movie in the first place?

One of my biggest gripes with the movie was how the music forced how the audience felt in every scene. Other thriller movies such as Get Out or Baby Driver use the music in their movie to build suspense, or add an extra layer of excitement to the scenes. Bird Box only seemed to have music in order to signal an upcoming fake-out “jump scare”, or to tell the audience, “alright, you’re supposed to be scared now”. As a whole, the scenes with music in Bird Box felt extremely forced and took away from the movie whenever they happened.

The music in the background of certain scenes was used as a way to create tension, and while this works in some other movies, Bird Box makes it feel forced and unnatural.

Finally, the aspect of the film that I found most lacking was any kind of world-building. While purposely keeping a movie “vague” can be a stylistic choice, in Bird Box it was more distracting than anything, and left me asking a lot of questions that the movie failed to answer. Why did Malorie decide not to name her children for the first 5 years of their lives? Why can’t the monster get in through the house’s vents? How did Malorie row down a river for 48 hours, blindfolded, without any kind of physical training? While none of these questions are extremely important to the central plot of the film, it certainly distracts the audience while they’re watching and takes away from the movie as a whole.

Why is Bird Box so popular? I attribute its success to Netflix hiring big name actors, such as Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich, in order to boost recognition for their otherwise standard movie. While the movie itself isn’t anywhere near Oscar worthy, it kept my attention for the majority of its runtime. If you’ve got a free afternoon and already have Netflix downloaded, it’s worth a watch just to see what everyone is freaking out about, although I certainly won’t be watching it again any time soon.

Graphic by Aayushi Chaudhary

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