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Netflix’s original film Bird Box is severely overhyped, and that can’t help but to affect the quality of the film. Whether you want to try to stay away from the hype is up to you, but even from far away, the buzz for this feature is deafening.
Academy Award Winner Suzanne Barr takes on Bird Box as her first English language film after winning for Best Foreign film in the past, and it certainly has its limitations as being such. Her actors come off stiff and either over or under emote within scenes. The pacing is incredibly severed by the use of flash forwards to show the search for sanctuary, when the film should have focused primarily on the characters in the backstory without giving the rather large spoiler in the beginning of the film. The film is over two hours long, and at times it feels so much longer, with only rare character moments that catch the viewer off guard - otherwise if you can guess a character’s action you’ve probably guessed correctly. The atmosphere was crafted well, but still left a lot to be desired. However, the decision to keep the “creatures” invisible was a brilliant idea that I will forever applaud for adding mystery to the story. The flash forward river scene drags on for quite some time, and when the group hits land, the exploring becomes enormously tedious and leaves a desire for more. If at times the director would have chosen to possibly eliminate visuals such as the people in the film, the portrayal could have been enhanced; with blindfolds on the film goes dark, and with blindfolds off we see the world, for example. This method would have not only been innovative for this topic of the film but also provided something completely unique to this fascinating yet disappointing horror film.
A sudden outbreak of an entity that requires sight to induce visuals into a beings mind causes almost all to seek refuge or commit suicide instantly. The story follows a pregnant Malorie (Sandra Bullock) as she, along with several others, must survive the world as it has now become for as long as they can. As the time goes by and the children of the house get older, Malorie takes it upon herself to try to seek refuge at a rumored sanctuary down the river. The question is: Will they make it? The story takes attributes of The Happening and A Quiet Place to make a horror film that should have been so much more interesting, however it instead makes for a recognizable film that is exhaustingly predictable. At no point was I clamoring for what was going to happen to the characters, as it was quickly spoiled from the start and the twist ending, while satisfying, was a long way to come for an “of course” reasoning. The actual bird box device within the film is a clever device used to draw notice to the blinded humans of the creatures presence by flailing birds. The film is severely flawed in this aspect as the world should be squawking, as these beings are practically everywhere on Earth. However let’s not be drawn away from the fact that Bird Box is a halfway decent film to a point, but suffers from predictability and a waste of opportunities a majority of the time, trashing a good concept with a not thoroughly explained and overly generic plot.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Sandra Bullock leads the cast in a riveting performance when placed among the right scenery, however mixed in with generic background and side characters makes her character less desirable. The later half of the film that is intercut throughout stars two young children in the roles of Boy and Girl that Bullock’s Malorie takes care of and they are fantastic in their roles, being innocent and caring when they shouldn't be. However, beyond a love interest played by Trevante Rhodes of Moonlight fame, who is one of the only survivors who we can root wholeheartedly for, the rest of the group of survivors are forgettable. Many great actors including Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, and Lil Rel, whom appear in the film very briefly, are incredibly underutilized in this feature and that’s a truly unfortunate factor here. It’s also a fault that several aren’t giving the most charismatic performance of their career, which injures the emotional longevity of the viewer for the safety of those on screen. Besides those who are in hiding from the beings outdoors, there are some that can see the creatures and love it, desiring only to make the survivors look at its “beauty” and how they can contain themselves from the being’s effect is left relatively unclear; another major discredit to the film’s script.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Silence would have better fit the film than the often over dramatic score. Dramatic and supposedly “shocking” scenes are ruined by score ques that explain everything that’s about to happen emotionally in an instrumental note. The crashes, burns, self inflicted shots, and leaps of “faith” are captured to a gruesome and graphic measure that helps the film display just how horrific the act of taking off the blindfold can be. It’s just a shame that the score couldn’t have been silenced for more of the rushing waters around the trio on the river, as silence is sometimes sweeter than music.
The carnage of the events following the creatures first “appearance” is brutal and hard to digest, but those of whom are comfortable with the likes of The Happening should feel at home here. Bloody but not overindulgent in the gore, the film is brutal to a fine point and that is captured wonderfully in the visual decisions. The decision to not show the creature is a great choice, adding in a much more suspenseful atmosphere than if they were revealed. However, the sight of wind gathering around the beings leaves less of a mystery to their whereabouts. The amount of distress and heartache the survivors indore is captured through the makeup, wearing down the cast’s facial features over time and tiring them all from the circumstances of the times. Lastly, without spoiler, the proposed sanctuary they seek is visually appealing and gives a sense of hopefulness to the emotionally draining film, even if things may not be as safe as they seem.
High hopes are not meant for this film as it doesn’t deliver as well as it should. With a better script, pacing, and character development there could have been a great film. Unfortunately the film feels incredibly staggered with a mix of characters that display the usual stereotypes of an apocalyptic setting, and a lack of care when a certain character is killed is a perfect representation of the poor characterization within. With so many apocalyptic films available to watch, this film doesn’t manage to be clever or original enough to guarantee a watch, especially when there are better apocalyptic films being released just this past year.