Apparently, what you cannot see CAN hurt you. Or at least that’s what the new Netflix original film Bird Box claims. Starring Sandra Bullock, this sci-fi thriller was highly anticipated for many Netflix subscribers, seeing as how it has the highest starting viewership of any original Netflix film. The plot is intriguing: An unknown entity spreads across the world and forces those who look at it to kill themselves. What the affected people see is left unknown, but it is implied to be their greatest fear, thus causing them to find the easiest way to end their life.
Last year, the popular Netflix film was Bright, which was another disappointment; it’s good to see that Netflix has learned their lesson and released a good film. Bird Box is a fun, fast-paced, and tense thriller that is absolutely perfect for viewers to watch. The film stars Sandra Bullock as a pregnant mother who gets caught up in the disaster, and who eventually gets stuck in a house with a number of strangers she doesn’t know. The film cuts back and forth between this plot line and one five years in the future, in which Bullock and two children are trying to get to a sanctuary via river while blindfolded.
Compliments to give this film go to Bullock’s electric performance. She is great in all of her other works, and this is no exception. In a scene near the end, she elevates the writing given to her in a powerful scene in a forest, and does this all without the use of her eyes. The other standout is Trevante Rhodes as one of the more prominent characters in the house that the majority of the film is set in. He was magnificent in Moonlight, and he shines just as much here.
Luckily, the film’s overall plot and tense nature are more than enough to get the audience through any slowness. No performance in Bird Box is lackluster, but the writing for some of the characters can be trite. In particular, Machine Gun Kelly and Rosa Salazar are both given very little material to work with, and their presence is a hindrance to the progress of the film. I understand why they were included, but I felt little empathy for their situation. Some characters are just thrown in the script, like Jacki Weaver, who has no reason to be in the film. Others are just cliché, like John Malkovich’s character. Malkovich plays the jerk, and it just feels like he’s included in the film in order to create unnecessary conflict. Later in the film, he does get redemption, which makes up for many of the cliche writing earlier on, but it still feels like the writers were trying to make the film longer for no reason.
Luckily, the film’s overall plot and tense nature are more than enough to get the audience through any slowness, and it never gets boring.
One aspect of Bird Box that I especially appreciate is the lack of CGI and tired green screen effects. Almost the entirety of the film is done with only one exception, and this adds to the authenticity of the situation. Even the scenes on the raging river with a blindfolded Sandra Bullock have no green screen to be found, which contributes to the gorgeous cinematography.
However, this leads me to my biggest issue with Bird Box: The structure degrades the suspense. When the audience is shown Bullock five years in the future with two kids, they know exactly who is going to live and die. This does add a bit of dread to the narrative since the deaths are predictable, but this also lessens the impact of scenes that could have been riveting, but are passable. The film eventually catches up to itself, and that is where it gets the most exciting for me, which was around the final thirty minutes.
Bird Box is still a very well-made thriller, but I feel certain aspects of the story could have been rearranged in order to make a more non-stop thrill ride. The film is still a fun watch, and I definitely recommend taking the time to give you and some friends an anxiety-filled two hours.
by Joel Alexander–Student Life Editor