Netflix's Original Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Rosa Salazar wastes no time in laying its ground rules. In the opening scene, we see the Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock- staring into the camera- and we get to know what the world has become now.
Essaying the role of Malorie, a woman who has survived the apocalypse and has two young children with her, Bullock has the entire weight on the movie on her shoulders. And she's surely proven to be worthy of it! She calls the young kids boy and girl, maybe because she does not wish to develop emotional attachment.
To survive, the children must listen to Malorie. She tells that this is going to be the most dangerous journey of their lived. If they do not obey her every command, they will die. If they open their eyes, they will die. And then a blindfold is pulled over their eyes and you know that the movie has begun!
Written by Oscar-nominated writer of Arrival, Eric Heisserer, brings a unique structure to the story and as it is made very clear in the opening, he finds interesting ways to communicate about the origins of the apocalypse. You might say that the basic idea of Bird Box is very similar to what we saw in M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening and John Krasinski’s recent thriller, A Quiet Place.
Certain 'creatures' have landed on Earth and well, looking at them with a naked eye makes the watcher to commit suicide. After making millions die in Russia, the creatures have now arrived in America. To survive and response immediately, the government shuts down borders and thousands die in a subtle manner whereas, handful survive.
But perhaps the most prominent narrative choice Heisserer makes - and this is true of the source novel as well - is by setting most of the movie in flashback. After the rules are set and we're introduced to the current scenario, the movie takes us five years back when Malorie is pregnant and a reclusive aritst with social anxiety. The apocalypse in America begins the day when Malorie visists her doctor with sister. On her way back, she witnesses people go mad and harming themselves. Her sister, who is driving the car, makes an eye contact with something she shouldn't have and collides the car with another vehicle. After that, she steps out of the car and kills herself.
All this while Malorie is sitting besides, in a panicked condition and as she sees her sister commit suicide, she runs for her life. One of the many important character moments that develop her into the mother she is so afraid of becoming. She ends up in the home of a cantankerous old man named Douglas (played by John Malkovich), with another 3-4 people who are simply trying to survive.
Majority time of the movie is spent in this house. You'd hoped this movie to be something like the post-apocalyptic thriller, but it's a survival drama and even a locked-room mystery!
Trapping six different people and personalities in one room, at such a high-pressure situation, and root the high-concept science-fiction premise in real human emotion, leaves you spunned. And what a killer cast has the Danish director Susanne Bier assembled. Joining Bullock and Malkovich in the ensemble are Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, Animal Kingdom’s gangster matriarch Jacki Weaver, the great Sarah Paulson, Rosa Salazar from the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel, Get Out’s Lil Rel Howrey, the rapper/actor Machine Gun Kelly, and an unrecognisable Parminder Nagra (from Bend It Like Beckham).
Sandra Bullock owned this movie! Her character portrayed the many complex notions of motherhood and survival. She's one of the very few actors who can switch- on many scenes- from fierce intensity to incredible warmth. While Heisserer’s screenplay is a strong point of the movie, but it is truly Bullock's performance that is the viewers biggest take from the movie!
As soon as we develop concern for the characters, we're taken again to the present, where Malorie and the two kids are trying to pave their way across a perilous river. With rapids approaching and no other way to navigate, Malorie asks one of the children to look and we're back to the past!
The movie is nothing like Sandra has ever come across in her unendingly diverse filmography. From staging some nail-biting scenes to setting the graph right, this movie has some spine-chilling moments. One in particular, that involves driving ‘blind’ with the help of a GPS.
For everything that's worth, Bird Box is a must-watch! It is one of those high-concept sci-fi thrillers such as the forgotten Nicolas Cage movie, Knowing, and even the recent Alex Garland film, Annihilation. SEVEN AND A HALF STARS!