Movie Review: Birdbox
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Once again, Netflix’s annually hyped up genre film falls completely and squarely flat on its face. Going by the name of “Bird Box,” this post-apocalyptic thriller’s only strength lies within its actors’ capacity to do their job.
“Bird Box” follows depressed artist Malorie (a sad and sullen Sandra Bullock) amidst the end of human civilization caused by… wind demons? “Bird Box”’s creatures are lazily explained by a “knowledgeable” supermarket clerk; the only rule is that if you see them, you die, which is ironic because if you can’t see the creatures, how can they affect you?
Maybe director Susanne Bier wanted to attach a symbolic meaning to them. Maybe she wanted to insinuate that these creatures were dangerous to viewers. Or maybe, and this is by far the scariest possibility, she was too lazy to try and make a design herself. But there might be hope in the film’s portrayal of its main cast.
Just kidding. The movie’s two main story arcs consist of a pregnant Malorie surviving in a mansion with several others right after the wind demons attack the town she lives in, while the second arc follows a non-pregnant Malorie with two children five years later as they sail down a river in search of a sanctuary owned by a mysterious man named Rick (a peculiar Pruitt Taylor Vince). Having these separate arcs should be all fine and dandy, but “Bird Box” throws viewers in between these two arcs, leaving nothing to be questioned about the fates of characters stuck in the mansion.
What’s worse is that every attempt “Bird Box” makes at having a symbolic or emotional meaning from an event in the mansion appear in the five-years-later arc is rushed and unthoughtful. Every attempt feels empty and even infuriating. The decision to have these story arcs run together instead of linearly was just a bad decision.
And of course with a poorly written story comes poorly written characters. Malorie has no redeeming qualities until the end of “Bird Box” when her character magically develops to adapt to the happy ending. Malorie’s character is so moody and unlikeable that she goes as far as to name the children “Boy” and “Girl.” Other supporting characters, like Malorie’s new-found lover Tom (a dedicated Trevante Rhodes) or aforementioned supermarket clerk Charlie (a distressed Lil Rel Howery), are mostly one-sided characters despite their importance to the overall story.
Then there’s the name. “Bird Box” itself is catchy and pops off the tongue, which is what movie titles should try to aim for. What movie titles should also try to aim for is to have either a deeper meaning or resemble the central conflict. “Bird Box” received its name because Malorie carries a box with three birds in it.
The reason behind why Malorie carries these little birds is because they can detect the presence of the wind demons. Ultimately, they do little to serve the overall plot, because by the time these birds start chirping, Malorie already knows she’s in trouble.
And after watching “Bird Box,” my subscription to Netflix might be in trouble too.
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Will Roach, junior, is the Opinions Editor for the Messenger. He is the president of the Movie Appreciation Club and is a varsity member of Speech and...