Bird Box (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Bird Box</strong> (2018)

(Netflix Streaming, February 2019) You can be out of touch and yet still feel that the cultural conversation is being manipulated, and that would cover my reaction and finding out that, out of nowhere, everyone in January 2019 was talking about the Netflix exclusive horror movie Bird Box. Much of the chatter had something to do with stupid people behaving stupidly—To promote a movie in which characters had to do things while blindfolded, Netflix sponsored influencers to do the same and then idiots ran with the idea to do even more dangerous things such as driving while blindfolded. One well-publicized car crash later, we were left to ponder where viral marketing ends. All of this, unfortunately, makes for a poor introduction to Bird Box—which is a kind of film best discovered out of nowhere rather than heavily marketed. It is, at best, an effectively realized horror thriller with an intriguing premise. But even then, it’s not able to sustain the scrutiny that a hype campaign creates. Simply put, the premise has to do with something invading earth and making sighted people go crazy suicidal. Screens or mirrors won’t protect you: the only way to go outside is to do it blind. (And ignore those who tell you to take off the blindfold, because they’re just trying to trick you.) Fast-forward a few years after the global catastrophe, and the story picks up with a mother (Sandra Bullock, effective) having to leave the confines of a comfortable secured home to undertake a dangerous journey to a possible sanctuary … with two kids in tow. In a way, Bird Box finds a niche in the spate of recent horror movies revolving in one way or another around sensorial deprivation, whether it’s sight (Lights Out) or sound (Hush, Don’t Breathe). It’s not badly executed on a technical level, although the less you think about the premise the better it’s going to be. The film does feel longer than it should thanks to a framing device that takes a long time to go through the inevitable plot points that it announces in the first few minutes of “now” time. The opening sequence is rather good, though—as there’s a catastrophic pandemic of suicides affecting our protagonist, it’s hard not to think that this is how The Happening’s first half should have felt like. Still, the story eventually settles down to a bunch of survivors in a house learning about the rules of the film’s horror and figuring out the essential facets of life under this new environment, followed by the protagonist and her kids making their way in a dangerous journey. While not particularly good, Bird Box remains an adequate film, and I think it may actually appreciate the longer it’s away from its initial hype.

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