Film Review: Bird Box – 7.5/10

‘Every contact we’ve had with the outside has brought us death…’

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If you have eyes and the capacity to read you are probably already aware of Bird Box. Netflix’s latest smash has caused a stir online and has provoked endless debate amongst people who like to stroke their beards. Luckily, there will be none of that in this review. Mainly because of the old monkey brain and my inability to grow a beard.

I’m guessing most people watching Bird Box have not read the book because I am a bit of a dick like that. Well I tackled it a couple of years ago and here is what I said:

‘There are plans to turn Bird Box into a feature length movie and while that is an intriguing prospect, it seems unlikely that a big screen adaptation could correctly capture the claustrophobic atmosphere that runs throughout the book. I read it in three days and I’m a moron. That’s how good it was.’

And, for once, I was kinda right about all of that. Bird Box is an effective horror movie because it is well acted, beautifully shot and packed full of tension but is it as compelling as Josh Malerman’s novel? Probably not. Does that make it a bad movie? No. Is hypophora an annoying literary technique? Most definitely.

When an unknown entity causes people to commit mass suicide (like in The Happening), a woman named Malorie (Sandra Bullock) must protect the children under her care who she has simply named Boy and Girl (like in The Road) without the use of one of her senses (like in A Quiet Place). To be honest, I am being a bit knowingly unfair here. Not least because Malerman began writing the novel before any of those other works had been released and also because all dystopian literature is bound to share common ground somewhere along the way.

I spoke in my Bandersnatch review about the fact that that film struggles to break free from the gimmick of being a choose your own adventure story. Well, the premise of Bird Box sounds like a gimmick but as with the excellent A Quiet Place it never really turns out that way. Mostly because Sandra Bullock delivers her best performance in years and also because the direction and pacing are so assured.

Horror is currently in the midst of a golden phase at the moment with films like Hereditary and Suspiria and TV shows like The Haunting of Hill House and Channel Zero among others. This has resulted in everyone raising their game, including Netflix. It is only a matter of time before we reach saturation point and a slew of imitations spoil it for everyone else. Until that happens, enjoy movies like Bird Box. Undoubtedly one of the horror events of 2018.

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