An inventive survival film twisting another clever elemental horror in sight with a potential-filled Shyamalan-y concept, 360-plot structure, & strong lead in Bullock, but too much pretense, filler, & stumbling around in an incomplete product. 6/10.
When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Review: An inventive survival film twisting another clever elemental horror in sight (following Hush’s lead with hearing & AQP with speaking) with a potential-filled Happening-esque concept, 360-plot structure, & fine performances led by Bullock, but too much pretense, filler, & stumbling around in an incomplete-feeling final product. The premise is undeniably intriguing: apocalyptic set-on by creatures so horrifying and malevolent they take on the personalized appearance of that individual’s greatest fear to make them take their own life. The veritable ripeness of this idea (basically a more grounded M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening) as a horror franchise is somewhat realized with chilly fogset woods/river cinematography, psychological torment teases, strong core acting led by the always-a-treat Bullock, Paulson of AHS fame (best scene in the film), Trevate Rhodes, and B.D. Wong, plus fine scripting and direction working in character moments and development in addition to a balanced narrative and 360-plot structure inventively telling the story from 3/4 end to beginning back to final act simultaneously. Best of all, the refreshing release method on Netflix for a film this big may be signaling a market shift I am certainly okay with if it means free and easy viewing whenever best for the viewer without having to always schlep to a theater. But, there are many flaws, like too much pretense and time spent on flashbacks/build-up instead of action and present-day the film feels much more at-home in, lightness on horror (more of a survival film than horror and they should have marketed it that way), occasional melodramatics, questionable choices in supporting actors – I mean, Machine Gun Kelly? Really?? – and a lot of stumbling around when the characters should be much better adapted after 5 years (like A Quiet Place got right). But worst of all, there are still TONS of questions left unanswered: e.g. what are the people in the house’ backstories/relationships and, most importantly: what are the creatures and where did they come from?!?!? (kind of important).. All in all, Bird Box is an inventive survival film worth seeing just for the idea I wished had been been executed better (and scarier) and Bullock’s performance, but go in with a level-head and a generous predisposition.
Overall Rating: 6/10