In the film "Bird Box" the lead character Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) calls her children as "Girl" and "Boy"in 99% of the film. This is partly due to the times in which Malorie and the kids are living and partly due to the fact that Malorie does not really want to be connected to people. The film set in the apocalyptic and make believe world probes into the psyche of humans and their innermost fears like never before.
This post is aimed at reviewing "Bird Box" , a Netflix production based on the bestselling book by Josh Malerman which is directed by Susanne Bier and stars Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) in pivotal roles and exploring the themes and subjects it tends to explore.
Bird Box :- The story
Bird Box outlines the near future in which an unknown force (an invisible alien army) has invaded Earth and is destroying life as we know. The force is invisible and once a victim makes an eye contact with its body shape, he/she commits a suicide act. It is in this world, where one can’t look outside their homes and windows are all covered, Malorie Hayes gives birth to a boy and adopts a girl from a fellow survivor. She then lives indoor to survive this apocalypse with some people. She keeps running from one shelter to the other and losing friends, family,survivors on the way. As she is gasping for life and direction, she sends messages on a radio looking for survivors hoping that one day she will find a sanctuary for herself and the children. As luck would have it, she receives a message from a stranger called Rick and she sets on an impossible journey with her kids on a boat with their eyes covered through the rivers and rapids to meet Rick.
It’s this journey which chronicles the story with flashbacks from the origins of the apocalypse. Malorie always carries a few birds with her who have the extraordinary capability of giving signals when the alien force approaches them as she can’t see due to her blindfold.
Bird Box : Another version of "A Quiet Place"
This year Hollywood was taken by surprise by the monster success of low budget horror flick "A Quiet Place" starring Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. Bird Box is set in a similar world to that of “A Quiet Place” ie. AQP features monsters who are sensitive to any kind of sound and will kill anybody who makes noises.
In Bird Box, the monsters are largely invisible but they tend to talk to their victims in the voices of their loved ones and trap them into removing their blindfold or look deep into them. The monsters also affect people in different ways, it is shown that people who have a troubled past are made carriers and can attack fellow humans at their will. Malorie gets attacked by people who talk normally as if they are not affected by the force. Here it can be argued that the force in Bird Box is ever evolving. In AQP, the aliens are quite simply black and white with one defined problem of sound sensitivity itself.
The Theme Of Apocalypse and the troubled family
Hollywood has long been fascinated by stories which mark the end of the world. There have been numerous attempts to show families in trouble when a cataclysmic event strikes Earth. Be it “Independence Day”, “Interstellar”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “Terminator”, “Waterworld”, “Children Of Men” are all stories featuring a family in the middle of global crisis.
An apocalypse can be an amplifier of great storytelling. The genre creates a scope for human beings to encounter their worst fears and how they cope with it. The backdrop also creates endless possibilities for the lead characters to go through extraordinary events. In the end it is also uplifting to see when the protagonists reach their goals against odds.
In this genre, the internal dynamics of the family is the key to great storytelling. As in how does the family react to external challenges, how do they adjust with new realities about each other and how do they stay connected like a team to take on the negative forces in the story. Eg. This is beautifully portrayed in “Bird Box”.The vision of Susanne Bier who is an Oscar winning Director.
The vision of Susanne Bier
Bier is an Oscar winning Director from Denmark whose film “In A Better World” won the “Best Foreign Film” Oscar. Her vision for Bird Box is larger than life. I would say that the journey of Malorie’s character from a loner to a crusading mother has been depicted in a humane and yet compelling manner. There are scenes in which the audience are stuck in the little boat with Malorie and the kids. It is as if the viewer feels mentally liberated when she reaches her destination.
In some ways, Bier has created an alien villain who is far more psychological in nature. It whispers to its victims in the voices of its loved ones. Malorie and her spirited children end up playing hide and seek to save their lives. Bier has successfully bought out a fascinating study of motherhood through Sandra Bullock’s role of Malorie Hayes.
Performances of the Cast
Sandra Bullock gives one of her best portrayals ever. People are already comparing her boat journey to Meryl Streep’s “A River Runs Through It”. She keeps the film on her shoulders successfully. John Malkovich makes a brief and yet powerful appearance. Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) gives an engaging and subtle performance as Malorie’s lover. The children actors have literally stolen the show as they gave Bullock solid support.
The second best apocalypse movie of the year along with “A Quiet Place” . We give this movie a 7 out of 10.