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Bird Box

USA 2018
produced by
Dylan Clark, Chris Morgan, Clayton Townsend, Susanne Bier (executive), Sandra Bullock (executive), Ainsley Davies (executive), Alexa Faigen (executive), Eric Heisserer (executive), Ryan Lewis (executive) for Chris Morgan Productions, Dylan Clark Productions, Bluegrass Films, Universal/Netflix
directed by Susanne Bier
starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Colson Baker (= Machine Gun Kelly), BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Parminder Nagra, Rebecca Pidgeon, Amy Gumenick, Taylor Handley, Happy Anderson, Kyle Beatty, Ashley Alva, David Dastmalchian, Keith Jardine, Kristopher Logan, Shirley Butler, Aden Calderon, Chanon Finley, Frank Mottek, Danny Max, Debra Mark
screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the novel by Josh Malerman, music by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Malorie (Sandra Bullock) has to go down a treacherous river in a rowboat with her two children (Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards) while wearing a blindfold the entire trip. As for the why, we have to go back 5 years ...

Malorie's pregnant when she lears of a bizarre wave of suicides that have swept over Africa and Europe - and suddenly the people in her hometown act bizarre as well, and start killing themselves. And all at the same time, too, putting Malorie directly in harm's way - when a stranger, Tom (Trevante Rhodes), drags her into the house of Douglas (John Malkovich). Now here's a little background, it seems all those who kill themselves see something so terrible (it's never shown to the audience) that they just have to commit suicide - so as long as one doesn't see whatever it is, one's fine. Just whatever it is is everywhere outside, so it's imperative to stay indoors with all the windows covered up at all times ... or wear blindfolds when outside. So several people from all walks of life have gathered at Douglas' place, who plays reluctant host to the lot of them, including Malorie and Tom. And he's extremely opposed to them taking in someone else from the outside days later, pregnant Olympia (Danielle Macdonald), but Malorie and Tom, who are the moral base of the group, pretty much insist.

Eventually supplies run low, but luckily one of them, Charlie (Lil Rel Howery) is an employee at a local supermarket, thus can let them in if only they can make the way - with their car windows covered, trying to get their merely by GPS ... and they manage to make it, too. And at the supermarket, Charlie, so far more of a coward than anything else, is allowed to die a hero, while Malorie detects a bunch of birds in a cage and takes them with her as pets - and because they are sensible to whatever it is that threatens mankind and give early warning.

Back at the house, Olympia lets a new stranger in, against Douglas' expected protest - but initially Gary (Tom Hollander) seems to be a regular guy who tells them he has escaped a bunch of psychopaths, who are the only ones to stand the view of whatever it is without being driven to suicide. And then both Malorie and Olympia go into labour, and while everyone's distracted because of that, Gary starts to remove the covers from the windows, exposing everyone to whatever it is outside, and in a scuffle he's overcome, but of all our heroes only Malorie, Tom and the two newborns survive. But left to their own devices rather than relying on the strength of a group, the future's less than certain ...

 

Now I pretty much love the premise of Bird Box, and I love that very little is actually explained away, and the actual threat is never shown, just hinted at. Also, director Susanne Bier does a good job bringing the unnamable threat and the feeling of unease to the screen - but I'm sorry to say that the film falls a little bit flat when it comes to writing: Most of the characters are really just paper cutouts - the cynic, the helpless pregnant woman, the righteous black man, the coward, and so on -, with Malorie at the center being not even allowed a character arc - she's always right and righteous, always badass and capable, even when giving birth -, and the situation these characters run in, are pretty standard horror fare, which is especially disappointing given the great promise. Now of course, the film's still alright genre fare, just nowhere near what it could have been with better writing.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD