Bird Box (film)
|Directed by||Susanne Bier|
|Screenplay by||Eric Heisserer|
|Based on||Bird Box|
by Josh Malerman
|Edited by||Ben Lester|
Bird Box is a 2018 American post-apocalyptic film directed by Susanne Bier from a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. The film follows a woman, played by Sandra Bullock, who, along with a pair of children, dubbed Boy and Girl, must make it through a forest and river blindfolded to avoid supernatural entities which cause people who see them to either die by suicide or force others to look. Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, Machine Gun Kelly (credited as Colson Baker), BD Wong, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich also star.
In the dense wilderness, a woman, Malorie Hayes, sternly tells two unnamed children that they will be going on a dangerous journey down a river in a boat. Malorie strictly instructs them to not remove their blindfolds or else they will die.
Five years earlier, a pregnant Malorie and her sister Jessica discuss a strange news story regarding mass suicides throughout Europe. At a doctor's office, following Malorie's pregnancy checkup, they see a woman committing suicide when she bangs her head into a glass panel. As panic and chaos erupt in the city, the duo flee in order to get to safety. Jess briefly sees a mysterious entity and suddenly crashes the car in an apparent suicide attempt. An injured Malorie is horrified when Jess gets out and steps in front of a large truck, killing herself.
Malorie is rescued from a panicked mob by a woman named Lydia and is led to a survivor group hiding in a nearby house, though Lydia sees the entity and enters a burning car, killing herself. With media and communications off-line, the group tries to figure out what has happened, and concur that simply seeing the entities can cause humans to commit suicide. The group cover all the windows. The group is desperate for food so a survivor in the house named Greg uses the house's security cameras to see outside and search for supplies, believing a digital image of the entities will not harm him, but he immediately succumbs to suicide.
When the food supply runs out, Malorie and four other survivors, Charlie, who used to work in the supermarket they are visiting, Tom, Douglas, and Lucy head to a nearby supermarket. They black out the car's windows and navigate with its proximity sensors and GPS. They run over some unknown objects, most likely bodies, scaring Charlie who tries to leave the car. The unknown entity also appears and moves outside the car, setting the proximity sensor off and further frightening Charlie. Inside the store, Malorie rescues some pet birds and Douglas suggests that they stay in the supermarket, abandoning those who had stayed at the house, but the others reject this idea.
Hearing someone call for help, Tom opens a loading dock door to let a man into the store. As the door opens, the birds begin to screech, apparently sensing the entities without seeing them. The large man who Charlie recognizes as 'Fish Fingers' and says is mentally ill, having been in jail multiple times, attempts to force himself through the door and reveal the unknown entity to the group, believing they need to see it as it will 'change their lives'. Charlie suddenly runs and pushes the man and himself through the doors, which the others close, making the ultimate sacrifice. Charlie's blood pools on the floor under the door after Fish Fingers pulls out a blade and kills him, distressing the group, who leave Fish Fingers behind and return to the house.
After returning to the house, Lucy and Felix depart with the car, leaving the others with no means of transportation or access to additional food. Soon thereafter, Olympia, who is also pregnant, lets a wandering survivor, Gary, into the house against Douglas’s will. Douglas protests and attempts to force Gary out, grabbing Malorie's gun, but is knocked out by another survivor, Cheryl, resulting in him being locked in the garage until the group can decide what to do with him. Gary tells of people who looked at the entities but survived due to being insane, and are now compelled to force unaffected humans to look at the entities. When both Olympia and Malorie go into labor, Gary reveals himself to be one of the insane. He strikes Tom unconscious, removes all the coverings from the windows, puts Malorie's birds in the freezer, and opens the garage, effectively killing Douglas. He then goes upstairs to visit Malorie and Olympia with their newborn babies, removing the window coverings and forcing Olympia and another elderly survivor, Cheryl to view the unknown entity and resulting in their immediate deaths by suicide. Tom awakes and saves Malorie, who was under a blanket and thus saved from being driven insane, and the two newborn babies.
Five years later, Tom and Malorie are living as a couple with the children, whom Malorie calls only Boy and Girl, when they receive a transmission from a group stating that they are in a safe "community" downriver. Tom wants to go, but Malorie fears it is a trap.
Shortly after the transmission, a group of armed insane survivors find the house. The four blindfold themselves and flee, but Tom soon realizes that the men will catch them and he sacrifices himself by taking off his blindfold, enabling him to see and kill their pursuers with a gun before he eventually sees the entities and shoots himself in the head. Seeking a new shelter, the blindfolded trio, carrying supplies and the birds, find a rowboat and head downriver.
During a 42-hour journey, Malorie and the children lose their supplies in the water, kill an insane attacker, and capsize in raging rapids. Surviving that, they leave the boat and walk blindly through the forest. The entities tempt them by mimicking the voices of loved ones but they resist and finally reach their destination.
Malorie learns that the "community" is actually a school for blind, and therefore immune, students. Amongst the sighted survivors is Dr. Lapham, Malorie's obstetrician. Malorie releases the birds and finally gives the children names, Olympia for the girl, after her mother, and Tom for the boy.
Film rights to Bird Box were optioned by Universal Pictures in 2013, prior to the book's release. Scott Stuber and Chris Morgan were set to produce the film, with It and Mama director Andy Muschietti attached as director. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer was in negotiations to pen the script. In July 2017, it was announced that Netflix had acquired the rights to the book after Stuber became head of the feature film division of Netflix and would develop the film, with Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich starring. Susanne Bier was announced as the director. In October 2017, Danielle Macdonald, Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, Sarah Paulson, Rosa Salazar, Lil Rel Howery, and Amy Gumenick joined the cast. In November 2017, Machine Gun Kelly and David Dastmalchian joined the cast.
Principal photography began in California in October 2017. Wilderness scenes were shot on the Smith River in the far northern part of the state. The house exterior is from a place in Monrovia. The final scene was shot at Scripps College.
The film had its world premiere at AFI Fest on November 12, 2018. However, due to the Woolsey Fire that hit California and out of respect for the victims of Thousand Oaks shooting, Netflix cancelled AFI Fest’s red carpet coverage scheduled for the premiere. The film had a limited theatrical run begin on December 14, 2018, before starting streaming on Netflix on December 21, 2018. A week later, Netflix reported that Bird Box had the biggest seven-day viewership for any of its original films to date, with over 45 million accounts, with views defined by the company as the film streaming for over 70 percent of its time. This claim has been met with skepticism from analysts, who cited a lack of independent verification of the view count.
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On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 64% based on 129 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bird Box never quite reaches its intriguing potential, but strong acting and an effectively chilly mood offer intermittently creepy compensation." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Bird Box challenge
In Australia, Netflix originally partnered with four Twitch streamers in performing what they called a Bird Box challenge, in which they would play some popular video games while blindfolded. However, the challenge has since turned into a global Internet meme in which participants wear blindfolds and try to do day-to-day activities. In response, Netflix has released several messages over social media advising people not to undertake the latter challenge. Nevertheless, a seventeen year-old in a blindfold taking part in the craze drove into oncoming traffic and subsequently crashed her car in Utah, prompting the police in the state to issue the same warning as Netflix.
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