Release: December 14, 2018
Director: Susan Bier
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
Starring: Sandra Bullock as Malorie Hayes, Trevante Rhodes as Tom, Vivian Lyra Blair as Girl, Julian Edwards as Boy
Running Time: 124 minutes
Warning: Reviews May or May Not Contain Spoilers
A woman sternly scolds two unknown children that the three of them are about to go on a trip down the river, and that they are not make no noise and not to remove their blindfolds during said trip for fear of attracting and seeing unknown creatures (an admonishment that the filmmakers seem to forget a mere few minutes later, because this is the loudest quiet trip down the river I’ve ever seen). While the three blindly float down the river in a rowboat, the film cuts back to five years earlier. We see the events of a cataclysmic event wherein unseen creatures invade and cause all who look upon their incomprehensible forms to go insane and commit suicide. After a trip to the doctor goes sideways, Malorie finds herself holed up inside of a house with a small group of survivors. The film cuts back and forth like this frequently, showing scenes of the trio of Malorie and the children lazily floating down the river and long stretches of tedious, tedious backstory.
If the concept of an indie horror flick about a small group of people having to be extremely quiet to avoid certain death at the hands of terrible creatures sounds familiar to you, that’s because you saw it in mid 2018 when it was called A Quiet Place. I would go so far as to call Bird Box the film that A Quiet Place could have easily become if John Krasinski had allowed that film to become mired in too much tedious and unneeded backstory. Rather than being a single, cohesive, focused narrative, the reliance on far too much world building and the flash forward-flashback structure make Bird Box feel like two separate films edited together with a meat axe and a quart of Elmer’s glue into a meandering, pointless mess of a film that carries on for half an hour too long. I will give the filmmakers some kudos for not showing the monster. It’s much better to have the creature be implied than to show it and have it be some mediocre looking creature rendered in subpar CGI. The film looks good. It has the visual atmosphere of something that could be legitimately creepy. However, it just never gets there. Like many of these more recent attempts at highbrow horror, they sprung for some actors with legitimate talent, so the performances are at least decent. They’re just wasted on an unfocused and bogged down story. Given the screenwriter, I’m not surprised. Heisserer has a seeming proclivity for scripts that are mediocre to bad, yet wrapped in a thick layer of pretension.
Essentially A Quiet Place with Uncle Cthulhu and Papa Yog-Sothoth and a hacky writing and editing job, if you haven’t seen Bird Box, you’re not missing much. This one can definitely be filed under the skip it file.