Birdbox is the new release from Netflix that boasts itself as a cinematic quality film released directly to their streaming platform. Birdbox has all the makings of a decent theatrical release with a strong leading woman, a seemingly substantial budget, and a provocative plot.
When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.
Sandra Bullock leads a well-rounded cast that includes John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Trevonte Rhodes, Machine Gun Kelly, and rising star Rel Howery. I noticed that there was pretty decent acting all around with few exceptions. John Malkovich can often be seen providing some really good scene-stealing moments and lines throughout. Rel Howerytones down his comedy just a bit in his performance but does lighten some often bleak circumstances. Trevonte Rhodes and Machine Gun Kelly are the only ones with inconsistencies. I will honestly tell you that I didn’t recognize MGK in this film which helped a lot as we don’t need that distraction.
The movie will drop-kick you if you’re an anxious person. There are times when the situation is so tense that you can’t help but worry. Bird Box has the distinction of joining the ranks of films with unseen threats. Bird Box joins Signs, The Happening, Cloverfield, A Quiet Place, and many more. This is not bad company when executed properly delivering suspense about a threat that you don’t actually see. I don’t often have the stomach for horror films but, Man Alive, I love a good suspense film and Bird Box delivers.
I enjoyed the setting and atmosphere delivered for Bird Box. They could have set this movie anywhere in the world but using small towns surrounded by woods is quite effective and serene. I think I just have a preference for post-apocalyptic films that take place in green environments. All of the foliage lends itself well to the concept of society crumbling.
The pacing at the beginning of the film is just way too fast. I get what they were trying to do thereby establishing a “base” for where society was before things devolved. I get it but it really doesn’t spend too much time in a functioning society before everything goes to hell. There are a lot of concepts introduced in these moments that are important to the story later in the film but you’ll be hard-pressed to remember them.
The pacing takes a long time to find its footing too as I felt jilted from one concept to another. This isn’t helped by the particular style of storytelling used. Bird Box relies on “Flashbacks” as a storytelling tool to fill us in on characters and narrative. This isn’t a bad method of storytelling but it makes following the story a confounding process when you include that with the all-too-fast introduction and time jumps used throughout. I just did not appreciate the setup for Bird Box based on too many ideas being ham-fisted at me at once.
Bird Box is 2 hours and 4 minutes in length and you notice all of them pass by. The movie could have benefited from fat trimming to reduce the run time. Bird Box doesn’t quite overstay its welcome but you will want things to wrap up. In a world where we have A Quiet Place and The Walking Dead desensitizing us to the apocalypse, things feel too familiar. This isn’t a knock so much against Bird Box as it wouldn’t matter if those others didn’t exist, but they do and it affects my length of tolerance to these films.
Bird Box is an entertaining movie and helps me appreciate my Netflix subscription. I enjoy seeing some recognizable Hollywood stars in Bird Box and the talent that they bring to the table. I didn’t mind watching for 2 hours once we were 30 minutes into Bird Box but I have to admit that about 90 minutes in I paused the movie for a bathroom break and blurted out “There’s still 30 minutes left?!”
Sandra Bullock does not age. Ever. I can’t quantify how this adds to the film but it’s noticeable. I often just paused and marveled at her face. Stunning.
Director: Susanne Bier
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, BD Wong, Sarah Paulson, Colson Baker and John Malkovich
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Cinematography - 9/109/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 7/107/10
- Setting/Theme - 7/107/10
- Buyability - 8/108/10
- Recyclability - 5/105/10