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Bird Box: Worth Your Time?

January 17, 2019

There are countless thrillers out in the immense world of movies, but late last year, a new guy on the block rolled in and instantly made history. Netflix Original Bird Box dominated the lands of Netflix with a stunning 45 million views*. Now, the question is: how?   

Allow me to first fill you with some understanding: 
Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic thriller, primarily about the world falling apart because of a cryptic force. If one sees it with their eyes, they instantly want to kill themselves and nothing will stop them.   

Our protagonist, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is at first left pregnant with her husband absent. Malorie's sister, Jess (Sarah Paulson) drives her to the hospital for a check-up on the fetus and at the hospital, a woman bashes her head against the glass window until she is restrained. Here is an example of foreshadowing, indicating that this monster has finally made its way to Northern California and soon entire United States. On the way back home, incidents occur... and Malorie is left alone while cars are crashing into each other and fire is starting everywhere around her. She is saved when people bring her into a large household with a variety of people. Inside this very house, all sorts of madness occur and while outside, the human population is dwindling. Yikes.

Just when they thought they were stuck inside this house for the rest of their life on low food supply, a grocery-shopping mission is established and much later in the movie, a blindfolded Malorie is riding down tempestuous rapids with two children on a little boat, searching for the sanctuary.

In a nutshell, the story goes like this: 
Monster arrives. World begins to fall apart. Gary joins the "family". Chaos. Malorie flees the house. The trip on the river. The Sanctuary.

Goodness, that was a lot! Let's move on about before my gregarious personality spills out something I shouldn't have.

Susanne Bier, director of Bird Box, is a master of suspense. The suspense in this film is a constant build-up until the conclusion. The "eye of the storm" scenes are hard to identify as it is outweighed by the suspense! Every time when the film switches back to present day (Malorie's boat ride) I lose the innate ability to breathe. What's going to happen to them? Are infected psychopaths going to attack her? In thrillers, anything could happen. Picture this: Malorie can't see anything because of her blindfold, and the camera is focused only her, meaning we can't see what's going on around her. Music begins to play, and she begins to panic. This is a common technique used to arouse apprehension, and in Bird Box, it was used flawlessly.

The flashbacks were quite ingeniously added just like in the book. The film editors gave us an opportunity to see what went on both five years ago (back in the deserted town) and present day (on the river), similar to the book. However, what really disappointed me was that these flashbacks lasted too long and didn't offer enough action on the river. 

The editing in some scenes make the film seem stereo-typically post-apocalyptic, but it's very very well done. Every time when a character sees the monster and becomes "possessed", a close up shot appears of his or her iris and pupil dilating to an incredible size and becoming hazy. Now, obviously, that's editing. The editors could have made the eyes look scarier by adding more creepy features, such as making it veiny or bulgy, but they decided to keep it at a natural level in the unnatural zone. 

The usage of CGI is very appropriate in Bird Box. Like most sci-fi films, CGI plays a crucial role, but knowing how to use it is the key. Some editors like to overwhelm us viewers with computer-generated images and often times, it seems TOO much. In The Battle of The Five Armies, armies looked like hundreds of plastic dolls and did not strike much astonishment. However, in Bird Box, the editors made everything look so realistic. The scenes where Malorie is running around shortly after her sister... well... "checked out"... the crane shot on the way to the grocery store uses a suitable amount of fiery, exploding cars.

You may be wondering how Sandra Bullock navigated herself on set while blindfolded. When filming, she had two layers of blindfold so that she couldn't see anything. This gave the film a realistic touch (which was lovely). For the scenes where she had to run, one layer of the blindfold would be taken of so she could see outlines of the trees. In one interview, Bullock admitted that she kept on walking into the camera. 

Now now, I would say this is the type of film that really CHANGES the book that it was based off of:
(understanding this part is made much easier if you have read the book)
  • The character Douglas, a true halfwit, is absent from the book
  • Tom (Trevante Rhodes) is more heroic in the film
  • The ending in the book is much darker 
In conclusion, Bird Box is a film that captures a mother's adventure in the wild against a monster. It is capable of changing the way people view thrillers, as some find this genre to be banal. The 19.8 million USD that was put into the making of this film came out more thundering and incredible than what people thought. About breaking the Netflix record? Bird Box deserved it.

And finally to answer the burning question... Is the 2 hours and 4 minutes worth watching?

YES!!!

___
*according to Netflix, one view is defined as one account watching over 70% of the film. However, the number could be over 45 million, since people may have watched the movie together on the same screen.








 
 
Here's the link to the trailer on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/o2AsIXSh2xo
Enjoy!
Written by - Aaron Zhao

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