The Popcorn Periodical
“Bird Box” soars to the top of our watchlists, but is there a message behind the blindfolds?
Towards the end of 2018, a little birdie told me Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) would be starring in an exciting new thriller on Netflix. By the time December rolled around, there were still no leads, but as it turned out, the little birdie was right!
Bullock’s new film is an adaptation of a 2014 best-selling novel by Josh Malerman, and Netflix debuted Bird Box on December 14, 2018. Almost immediately afterward, Bullock’s new holiday “horror” (it’s more of a thriller) began trending all over social media. Some viewers began calling it the “scariest movie of all time”, while others shared cryptic memes poking fun of the film. Netflix even issued a statement asking some fans of the film to quit participating in a dangerous #BirdBoxChallenge (where you film yourself blindfolded, running around aimlessly). Needless to say, in a world where kids are eating Tide Pods, people were getting hurt.
Even so, Bird Box is enticing because only those who’ve seen the movie can actually understand the hype behind it. A similar theme plays out in the film: only those who see the “monster” will understand the state of glory/horror it is said to bring. Believing your eyes, or “seeing” (in both the literal and metaphorical sense), will determine whether you live or die in Bird Box. So the intrigue behind the film quickly snowballed into the latest (and final) cinematic conversation of 2018. And with over 45 million streams in its first week of release, Bird Box proves that an easily accessible Netflix original movie has blockbuster potential. A post-apocalyptic tale, not exactly the early bird to the holiday movie season, but deserving of the coveted worm, nonetheless.
Aquaman still holds the #1 spot at the box office and Mary Poppins Returns offers a family friendly spoonful of nostalgia, but it’s Netflix’s Bird Box that’s got everybody chirping. Tweet! Tweet!
It’s simple. A lot of movies are relatable because they reflect the world around us. Other popular 2018 movies, like Black Panther, Love, Simon and Crazy Rich Asians, all sparked an overdue “representation in Hollywood” discussion, and after Avengers: Infinity War was released, people couldn’t help but think of overpopulation. It’s possible (if not, common) that some of the highest grossing and most popular movies tackle current affairs within – or even in-between – their plot lines. People may subconsciously suppress or completely eliminate these metaphors from a film’s overall message, but they still exist in plain sight. For example, Black Panther is a movie about a Marvel Comics superhero, yes, but it also very clearly highlights how the transatlantic slave trade is responsible for an irreplaceable loss of African life, culture, and history, and how that travesty has and still does affect African Americans today. It’s how the movie’s villain, Killmonger (Michael. B. Jordan, Creed 2), came into fruition. In my opinion, Bird Box nests on a similar ideological perch.
In what I consider to be a beautiful yet vague thriller (in the vein of A Quiet Place), Bird Box not only blindfolds its main characters but it also blindsides its audience. There are twists and turns and eerie happenings you will not see coming throughout the 2h 4m running time, and Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning director, Susanne Bier (Things We Lost In The Fire), does her absolute best to satisfy. The main character Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is originally unaware of the dangers lurking in her newfound surroundings, but she manages to navigate them to the best of her ability thanks to a solid (yet tokenized) supporting team of misfits, including a disgruntled homeowner (John Malkovich, Valley of the Gods), a sexy and heroic bachelor (Trevante Rhodes, The Predator), some take-one-for-the-teams (Lil Rel Howrey, Get Out, and BD Wong, Jurassic World), and haunting yet brief performances by Sarah Paulson (FX’s American Horror Story) and Danielle Macdonald (Netflix’s Dumplin’).
There are plenty of missing pieces in this mind-bending movie puzzle, and the film’s ending differs quite a bit from the book’s, but Bird Box takes place in a fictional dystopian world where seeing a monster will kill you (or without spoiling the plot, coerce you), and upon viewing, it’s not difficult to envision how that same situation can apply to our everyday lives. Complicity runs rampant in society because people are “blindfolded” or unable to see simple truths. When someone genuinely does not see racism, homo/transphobia, religious discrimination, sexism, or any other bias as a problem, is it because they do not deal with it in their own lives? I believe it to be a valid question, one this movie made me ponder, but while I perceive the Bird Box blindfolds and monsters to be a representation of ignorance and marginalization, perhaps this suspenseful journey is just another end-of-the-world movie starring a big named actress running from the boogie man. Take your blindfold off to find out.
“Never lose sight of survival.”
3.5 Popcorn Kernels / 5
About the Author
Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.