A mysterious occurrence creeps over the world’s population. No one knows what it is or what causes it, the only thing that’s certain is that those that see it are compelled to suicide. The few remaining survivors must then struggle to exist in a world they must navigate through while blinded in order to survive.
What I liked:
The acting in this ranged from good to great. Sandra Bullock as Malorie the protagonist put forth a great effort as a single mother trying to keep herself and two children alive during the apocalypse. I liked her character arc as she went from a reluctant, unattached pregnant mother to five years later being the guardian of two children she tries to distance herself from but ultimately comes to love as her children. For instance, she literally names the children Girl and Boy as well as makes them call her by her first name. At one point she had a decision to make where while traveling in a boat down the river they would hit rapids and someone would HAVE to look in order to help her navigate. She decides that it has to be one of the kids, Boy initially volunteers to look and she tells him no and that she will decide. She then stares at Girl for a bit. In a flashback we learn that Boy is in fact her biological son, whereas Girl is the child of a fellow survivor whose mother died immediately after birth. Her immediate refusal to allow Boy to be the one to look and prolonged look at Girl made me feel like she would be more comfortable with Girl being the one to sacrifice herself since she didn’t feel like she was her mother. There was also a scene where everyone ends up separated from one another and once Malorie and Boy are reunited and calling for Girl, Boy tells her that Girl is afraid of her. Despite all of the hardships, once they make it to a sanctuary Malorie finally gives the two children names. Girl is named Olympia, after her birth mother while Boy is given the name Tom, after the man who served as their surrogate father until he died before they reached sanctuary. Other than Bullock the rest of the cast gave a good performance, but nothing really stood out to me.
I was also a fan of the monsters, demons, spirits, or whatever they were. Even though the movie never specifies what it is or even if there is an actual creature, I liked the concept. I like to think that it has to be some kind of sentient life form since it can not only make people see their worst fears, it can speak to them and try to manipulate them into removing their blindfolds and looking at it. It has an element of Lovecraftian horror to it, in that there are cosmic beings that are so beyond human comprehension that merely laying eyes on them will drive a human mind to insanity or worse. The closest thing we get to seeing what the monsters might look like is through the drawings of Gary and a creeping shadow over one of the video monitors from an earlier characters death. It’s the unknown aspect that I like best about it. It allows you to come up with your own interpretation of what you think the characters might be seeing. I prefer this approach rather than if the movie had spent all this time hyping up the monster only for it to be disappointing. It may not be something that works for everyone but it worked for me in this case.
What I didn’t like:
The inconsistencies in this are glaring. For instance, the monsters and their effect on people. With the vast majority of the population looks at one, their eyes morph before they kill themselves. For some reason that’s never explained, crazy people are able to look at them without being driven to suicide or practically any ill effects, yet they’re driven to force other people to look at the creatures. The movie shows us several of the crazies, all of which have seen the creatures, yet some of them have the morphed eyes and some don’t. Take Gary for example, he shows up outside of the home the survivors have holed up in and when they let him in, he appears normal and even has normal eyes. By the next day or so we see his eyes morph as he starts drawing his pictures of the monsters. I thought it could have been due to seeing the pictures as we saw a character have the suicide response from looking at a creature through a security monitor, yet another character looks at the same pictures that Gary does to no effect. So how was Gary able to hide his morphed eyes, or was there a delayed response to seeing the creatures somehow? There’s a group of crazies that drive around in cars and they don’t have the morphed eyes, yet Malorie encounters a crazy on the river that does have the morphed eyes, as well as a guy they encountered in an earlier scene in the supermarket. There is also the fact that the monsters seem to be everywhere, yet we have to see them approach people to effect them. When Gary forces a survivor to look outside she immediately kills herself, same with another survivor that was locked in the garage. Was there a monster sitting outside the entire time waiting for someone to look out, or are they just there always? It’s not like they’re being forced to wait with their eyes open for a creature to appear. During the climax we see that Malorie is being chased by the monsters, as we can see them physically effecting the plants and trees around them as they move through them. So would Malorie have been fine if she’d taken off her blindfold as long as she didn’t look behind her?
The monsters are also shown to physically exist as bushes rustle, trees shake, and leaves are moved when they move through them. There is also a scene where the survivors are navigating in a car using its proximity sensors and everything goes off at once in an area where it shouldn’t indicating one of the monsters is near, as it shakes and rocks the car. So….why can’t they open doors or forcefully remove people’s blindfolds themselves? How is it that survivors can navigate the world completely safe with only a blindfold if these creatures are physically present? How is it that they’re only present outside? Whenever a survivor enters a building they can remove their blindfold and look around without issue, they only need them outside for some reason. Are the creatures vampires? Do they need permission to enter buildings? How can they be physical entities, yet unable to break a window, open a door, or touch someone? But if they’re not physical entities, what is stopping them from just going into a house and appearing in front of people? No one wears blindfolds indoors it would be easy for them to get everyone. It doesn’t make sense.
Overall, Bird Box is a fairly average movie, with a below average plot propped up by great acting from Sandra Bullock. The rest of the cast puts forth solid acting performances but the plot is lacking. There are major inconsistencies that pop up and drag down for the movie for me. Its entertaining, but at certain points it boring and drags.