Just finished rewatching ‘Bird Box’ with Sandra Bullock.
What a really good movie!
I promised myself each time I finished a movie that I feel is worth talking about I’d write up a review.
So here I am again on that same journey!
Directed by Susanne Beir, Bird Box is a 2018 post-apocalyptic horror in which the pregnant Malorie opens the movie as being a painter in her home-cum art studio that she hides from the world from as she sees out her pregnancy.
We hear briefly about her ex-relationship being no good for her through the upbeat words of her sister who checks in on her to make sure she’s ok.
Then we open to a report on the news on the television of mass suicides spreading throughout Europe in breaking news – which as Malorie flippantly mutes and dismisses – have shown also to hit the US.
Her sister Jessica then drives Malorie to her hospital checkup, and we see a laughing and bubbly relationship between the two led by a sister (Jessica) who cares deeply for her sister.
It’s in the hospital that things take a sinister turn as walking out of her checkup – where it becomes abundantly clear that Malorie isn’t enthused at all about the prospect of having a child.
Soon after she slipped the doctor’s adoption leaflet into her handbag she sees a woman smashing her head vigorously against a window to the point that she breaks through and then jumps out.
Chaos ensues on the drive back as Jessica rushes Malorie back home via car – only to see ‘it’ as well and then also determine to try and kill herself.
All she says as her iris’ change in texture somewhat is ‘mom?’. After this, she tries to drive the car into oncoming traffic, succeeds in hitting a crashed car, overturning their own vehicle.
The final image we have of Jessica is her stepping out into the road into an oncoming truck.
And as we see Malorie lying on the roadside next to a stately looking house – a woman (the wife of the miserable divorce lawyer or something to that effect) rushes out to help her.
She too suffers the same fate as Jessica, as Malorie looks over at her in horror as she calmly walks to sit inside of a burning vehicle.
Malorie is rushed inside by another passerby – ‘Tom’ – who we later see becomes the supporting actor in this ensemble – and then the second ‘act’ of the movie begins inside their house.
We’re met by several characters one by one inside the house and get to witness them living out the apocalypse over the next few days.
There’s the miserable Douglas who believes people are either dead or assholes – excellently played by John Malkovich. You have the upcoming actor Trevante Rhodes who plays ex-military servicemen Tom – who becomes Malorie’s partner in the movie.
I want to focus on some of the excellent plot developments.
First of all, this idea of an unseeing ‘shadow’ that upon sight causes you to commit suicide is excellent.
It’s a great concept that is made all the more enjoyable by being told through much of the movie by a despondent pregnant woman who’s ‘hard as nails’. And then we see each of the other characters get killed or kill themselves one by one.
It’s the ominous scenes in the movie such as them having to ride to the supermarket in a blacked-out vehicle that’s scary and so effective. This involves them painting the windows black, and using the GPS on the car to navigate the direction.
And then we encounter the ‘demonic’ force over their car – something which one of the occupants of the house – Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) who actually works in that same supermarket – consider to be just that – a sign of a demonic takeover that marks the end of humanity.
It’s his colleague who was in and out of jail they hear stuck inside the freezer at the supermarket that causes the tone of the movie to become even more foreboding.
The feeling of doom rides us even more as upon opening the freezer door – we soon discover he wants them to ‘see’.
Malorie finds some parakeets in the supermarket that she decides to keep as a pet – and anytime they feel the ‘danger’ they start to cry and get agitated.
And it’s from here we begin to draw out the name of the book – ‘Bird Box’.
The movie is interlaced with Malorie and two young children no more than 6 years old travelling a river blindfolded in an attempt to reach salvation.
They keep a Bird-Box with them because it serves as an early warning system whenever they come close to anyone or anything that carries the monsters with them.
I watched this movie for a second time because I found the way it drew me in to be brilliant (I’m a sucker for a good horror/apocalyptic movie).
So the breakdown in the house they occupy, the ensuing birth of two children (Malorie, Douglas, Tom and the others are soon joined by the also heavily pregnant Olympia) is strung out even more by the journey down the river that’s set at some point in the future.
And as the guy in the freezer demonstrates – who ultimately leads to the death (presumably suicide) of Charlie – who pushes him back through the door and joins him on ‘whatever’s on the other side…is that you seem to have people who ‘see’ and go unaffected – but actually are ‘crazy’ and wish others to ‘see it’ because it’s beautiful.
As later developments allude to – these people have some kind of criminal background and are somehow fully lucid, and able to walk around without a blindfold – which puts the others in grave danger.
Witnessing Malorie’s (excellently played by Sandra Bullock) strength and street smarts is a sight to behold. We see Greg (played by BD Wong) kill himself when trying to identify the ‘things’ through his security system. This ultimately fails and he too ends up killing himself.
It’s when Gary is bought in from the outside (played by Tom Hollander) that we discover the lengths to which the crazy people can go.
He is able to play a happy (albeit traumatised) member of the household – and it’s only when Malorie and Olympia are giving birth – we see him unload his satchel and find drawing up drawing of what appear to be those ‘things’.
This is when he rips down the paper covers blocking out the daylight, uncovers the blinds – and encourages everyone to ‘see’. It’s only several deaths later when we see that the last people alive are Malorie, Tom and the two newborn babies.
The movie then jumps five years forward and you see the couple living a kind of altered existence – raising the children to not use their sight when outside and doing what they can to ‘exist’.
We soon see the sad demise of Tom as he battles it out with some more people like Greg who come upon their home and wish them to ‘see’.
It’s only after killing all of them but one, we also sadly see Tom meet his demise as well.
Watching Malorie cry her silent sobs after she realises that Tom is no more is devastatingly sad. But with them having heard there is a place that has become something of a sanctuary at the bottom of the river – she resolves to take ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ upon that journey.
Throughout the movie, the children are never given names other than ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ as Malorie wants them to adjust to the harsh realities of this new world they live in.
And then – we’re upon the river and nothing more.
I don’t want to ruin the ending for you – but all I will say is (lol) that they don’t die – and they find a place of salvation. At the same time, they meet a familiar face and the film wraps up pretty nicely.
The Birdbox Monster
A satanic kind of monster that’s not ever seen as anything more than a shadow – I thought the fact you NEVER see the creatures to be brilliant.
It allows the concept of ‘what’ they are to never be answered and has it play in your mind and wonder if Charlie’s ideas about them being satanic are correct.
In some ways, they also represent the fears of depression, of the outside world and the horrors that make up society.
Often there without meaningful explanation to torment us.
The Bird Box Ending Explained
The ending of Bird Box is in my mind spectacular for many reasons with many religious undertones.
Throughout the movie we see that Malorie is cynical, bitter and lives in a state of relative indifference to the world – with the reasons for this was suspect being related to the loss of her ex-partner.
But we are never sure.
In the same way, we are never sure if these ‘creatures’ are demonic entities.
And so this makes the great journey along the river a great test ultimately for her faith…in herself, perhaps as well as ‘god’ – will her guide her to salvation?
Especially as she has lost Tom and now it is just the 3 alone.
The trials preceding them finding the school also call on faith from all of them. For girl to return to Malorie when she’s scared of her. For boy and girl to trust themselves to not remove their blindfolds, and for Malorie to ignore all the voices of the ghosts of the past
It’s a somewhat metaphorical shedding of the skin to allow Malorie room to step into something new.
And the refuge, the safe haven they find is a school for the blind – which has religious undertones and allows Malorie for the first time to ‘see again’.
Even though those in the school are blind, it is the first time Malorie sees hope – for a life beyond the ‘outside’.
This is where she names her children finally, and we see her meet her gynaecologist which perhaps represents a guided rebirth or a place where science and religion altogether can flourish
This film was one of Netflix’s biggest opening movies ever. I think it had some 45 million people that watched it on its opening weekend – which would make it the biggest ever.
That has also prompted tons of haters as you can naturally imagine.
In any event, when a movie moves me to write about it – then in my book it’s an excellent movie.
The novel (for which I see there’s also a sequel – Malorie) – is going to be my next fictional read – and I’m excited to see if I enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed The Girl With All The Gifts.
So – this is a movie I definitely recommend you watch!
What I really want to focus on is the ingenuity of the plot.
The idea of an apocalypse