[By Nur Farahin Zulkurnain]
Bird Box is the latest post-apocalyptic film to take the internet by storm near the end of 2018, exclusively available on and produced by Netflix, starring Sandra Bullock—who personated the protagonist in the film, Malorie. Based on the book by Josh Malerman, the story is centred around a population in North America targeted by an invisible supernatural being that appears to each person as an embodiment of their worst fears. These fears are so intense and devastating that it causes them to violently take their own life.
The film switches between three different time periods in chronological order: 5 years prior when North America was beginning to get affected, before the birth of the two children, and the present following Malorie’s journey to survive. The first time period opens up when Malorie is pregnant and the mass suicides begin to gravely affect her town. This time period then progresses to focus on nine survivors, including Malorie, living in the same house yet barely escaping the disaster of the hidden entities. Over the course of this time period, we witness how the nine fight to live and how they deal with the invisible enemy in various ways so nail-biting, quick and intense that you have no time to mentally prepare yourself. In the present, Malorie and her two children have to travel through the river by boat and through the woods, completely blindfolded; relying purely on their sense of hearing and touch to overcome obstacles while the enemies or hidden entities continue to lurk.
One aspect that I appreciate about the film is the character development of Malorie. Malorie started off as an uncaring, spiteful mother-to-be who tended to stay at home away from socialising and unnecessary human contact. Her image was juxtaposed by her sister Jess who was warm and encouraging, therefore portraying an interesting sisterly dynamic between the two. Yet as the story went on, Malorie gradually builds the ability to openly care for others, in particular for her children and her partner Tom. There is also a development in Malorie’s relationships as she opens up to the other survivors in the house, particulary Olympia, another mother-to-be and Douglas, the head of the house. It was heartwarming and hopeful to see, especially within an apocalyptic setting.
Another aspect that I have come to appreciate after watching the movie was the cinematography itself. The direction of Susanne Bier certainly proves to be worth mentioning. She takes advantage of certain camera angles such as close-up shots to depict the character’s emotions for the audience to intensely feel. In the case a character unfortunately sees the entity with their own eyes, we witness their tragic reaction. It differs for each unfortunate character but the anguish one feels never waivers. Furthermore, there is a technical focus on heart-wrenching and premonitory details within a scene such as Malorie’s hands clutching onto the rail as she descends the stairs towards the river for her journey. The cinematography indeed makes for a truly thrilling and suspenseful experience.
While I found the film engrossing, I felt that I was left with more questions unanswered than answered. The entities were not explored enough and the source of the problem still keeps me questioning. Violent imagery within the film was also gruesome and may not be for everyone. However, I can say I was well invested in the storyline and appreciated the franticness. Thus, I do recommend this film to those who enjoy a gloomy psychological thriller.