Bird Box: Director Susanne Bier builds tension & emotional stakes in the shudder-inducing apocalyptic thriller.

As someone who avoids horrors at all costs, my head did turn when Bird Box came onto the Netflix Originals list. In the first 7 days, the film accumulated over 45 million views, a personal record according to their books. Understandably, I had to put my fears to one side, sit in a very well lit room (to my brother’s disgust) and force myself to watch the new Netflix hit. Does the film live up to the hype?

Bird Box takes on the apocalyptic scenario where the world is being taken over by an ominous unseen presence, forcing everyone to go insane and more gruesomely; commit suicide. Malorie (Sandra Bullock) used to live her life as a painter in California but soon had to toughen up to never lose sight of survival. 5 years after the birth of her children, she goes on a long journey down the river to an unknown safe-point with only a gun and three birds in a box for protection. Does she make it or does her brain get shook by the uncontrollable force?

From winning 3 Golden Globes with her crime-thriller series The Night Manager in 2016, director Susanne Bier had a clear vision of what she wanted to do with Eric Heisserer’s adapted screenplay. The film begins with Sandra Bullock talking down to her children, landing us right in the middle of the unknown. The narrative plays out, interchanging between past and present, allowing us to delve deeper into the characters personas. Not only does this build up the suspense but it keeps us wanting more and asking continuous questions throughout as to why the characters are acting this way. The monster never had a face; did I want it to have a face? Definitely not! The problem with your generic postapocalyptic scenario is that they hype it up with over dramatisation and ridiculous CGI. This had none of that. From beginning to end, it had a different edge; a sharper edge that cuts deeper into our minds, asking us what we would do in these situations.

Like with any zombie-apocalypse armageddon story, a group is formed in order to survive. With academy award winner Sandra Bullock at the helm, the cast surrounding her had to be well-polished and developed. John Malkovich, also known as Douglas was a hit with many. As the experienced actor he is, he played the depressed, moody neighbourhood drunk convincingly and ended up being an audience favourite. If anything, he could have saved most of the group if they hadn’t of been absolute morons. Trevante Rhodes, star of 2016 Oscar winner Moonlight supported Bullock as her new lover, Tom. The two at first looked like an unlikely pairing but soon bonded together to form a surviving duo, taking on the demonic presence in unison. Rhodes added that little extra needed where Bullock was lacking. Tom Hollander was a personal favourite of mine. The British accent soon added that creepy edge. If it already wasn’t scary enough, listening to Hollander mess with the minds of the innocent will curdle your brain. Even Machine Gun Kelly made an appearance. The cast was handpicked perfectly to aid Sandra Bullock on her quest to survival.

Tom Hollander as Gary in Bird Box.

Is this the start of Netflix producing higher-quality originals? Maybe. It’s majorly better than some of the other originals the platform has produced. Bird Box isn’t entirely perfect. The story did have a minor flaw. My brother, a qualified lifeguard, mentioned to me during the film that no one could survive falling into a rapid river. You would get dragged under and never see the light of day again. Most likely, this part would have gone unnoticed to most. Aside from that, the film constantly had me asking questions; Why are you getting out of the boat? What is it that’s haunting and taking over the world? Why did you have to do that? What would I do? My mind was all over the place. At times, I was on the edge of my seat in suspense over what was about to happen next. The blindfolds were perfectly weaved into the storyline, adding to the suspense and making for unique techniques to be used throughout from Bier.

Now, Sandra Bullock’s blindfolded antics are making a viral hit on social media called The Bird Box Challenge with other celebrities getting involved, from England and Manchester United footballer, Jesse Lingard to American TV presenter and Comedian, Ellen Degeneres. The thriller continues to climb above all of its other competitors on the platform and audiences are sharing their thoughts worldwide. This is not a typical thriller filled with obvious and predictable jump scares. The story has been articulated to get viewers talking. The critics may not be happy, with the likes of The Guardian giving it a solid two stars; but who cares about that? Finally… THAT ENDING. I sat angered in my seat that I didn’t see that coming. No, I wasn’t wearing a blindfold throughout but seriously, without giving away spoilers, watch it.

What did you think about Bird Box? Let me know in the comments section below or follow me on Twitter and cast your opinions my way.


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