One day, the monsters arrived. People seem to be taken by a force and then kill themselves. If that sounds familiar, you actually remember 2008 M. Night Shyalaman film the Happening. That film had people committing violent suicides and people trying to flee the city and solve the mystery. The twist was that it was the trees that did us in.
The Happening is (for good reasons) not fondly remembered. It does have a couple very well done freaky moments. But it just becomes laughable.
Here, the problem is that…well…if you see the monsters…you are toast. And so, the only way to survive is to keep your eyes closed. For artist Malorie, this situation is even more troubling as she is pregnant.
Malorie soon joins a group of survivors in a house. Blocking the windows, they find themselves finding inventive ways to survive. But as the months tick by, they find that they must take bigger and bigger risks.
The film is focused on Malorie and her children and her detachment from life. The children are born after the event and simply named Boy and Girl. The three are trying to take a boat down river to a sanctuary. Using flashbacks, we get to see how the relationships within the house grow and break down…where trust becomes hard to come by.
The “keep your eyes closed” part is the most gimmicky, and yes, does evoke last year’s wonderful a Quiet Place. Unlike a Quiet Place, we do not share in the characters’ experience. With Bird Box, although there are a few brief moments seen through the blindfolds of characters, the camera remains in third person. Admittedly, forcing us to be blind whenever the characters are would get pretty obnoxious.
One of the really nice tricks is the film never tells us what the monsters are. We know people see them and then also seem to see loved ones… but we only see or hear the effects of their movement, not the creatures themselves. There are some really interesting artist renderings at one point, but really, who knows if this is really what the creatures look like or merely what the artists saw in their heads.
Bird Box is, thankfully, a much more effectively done take on a general idea like the Happening. The film has a really good cast and some really effective sequences.