Oh, Sandra Bullock, you are so likeable. Even when you are playing a somewhat frigid character, a woman who takes a breakup so hard she becomes a recluse, someone happy to shoot a stranger, the type of person who is so keen not to bond with her children that she doesn’t give them names… regardless, I heart you, Sandy B. You rule Bird Box.
In this Netflix thriller, the end of the world is pretty much here, brought upon the most efficient of alien monsters. Instead of killing humans, these clever bastards get humans to kill themselves. How they do this isn’t explained, indeed we never see the instigators of this world-wide death panic, but it leaves a small band of survivors trapped in a conveniently huge house.
Along side Bullock’s pregnant artist Malorie, the refugees represent a Benetton ad’s-worth of diversity: grumpy old white man John Malkovich, his patient gay neighbor BD Wong, hot hero Trevante Rhodes, ballsy policewoman Rosa Salazar and the always quirky Jacki Weaver as a possibly crazy older lady, pretty much her usual role. The survivors quickly suss out what they must do to stay alive: bolt the doors, pull down the blinds and just not look outside. Easy to do, until the food runs out.
Bird Box: both tense and a bit ridiculous
Bird Box cuts back and forth from the start of these troubles to the present, where Malorie is seen terrifying two small children with the instruction: keep your blindfolds ON! How she gets to that point, and why she perseveres, is mostly jumped over, along with any realistic character development, typical of the work of Danish director Susanne Bier. Let me repeat, Malorie chooses not to name her children. Risk everyone’s life to keep them safe, yes. Toss even a “sweetie” or “buddy” their way, nope.
Bier’s story, adapted from a novel by Josh Malerman, also doesn’t quite explain why the initial suicides change into something even more sinister. And here’s a philosophical question about the enforced suicide thing: would it affect children? Could a toddler be suicidal? Or homicidal? Discuss.
But this is Sandra Bullock in Mama Mode, and she makes even the ridiculous seem plausible. Somehow you care what happens to messed up Malorie; much easier to connect with is the fate of the two children, played by amazing little actors Vivien Lyra Blair and Julian Edwards. Must admit I almost teared up watching their sweet little faces as Sandra practically nanny-shook them into being responsible for their own safety. These three make the somewhat incoherent Bird Box worth a view, and besides, you have to see it if you’re going to break your neck doing the “Bird Box Challenge”, right?
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A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.