We see you, Netflix. Trying to up your original movie game by getting the top Hollywood stars to be in your films. Now, if you could just make them worth watching. After the debacle that was Bright, I wasn’t exactly too gung-ho about diving into another sci-fi-based thriller, but dammit, you went and got Sandra Bullock, one of my favorite actresses, to star in it.
I loves me some Sandy B. Since Speed–heck, since Demolition Man, I’ve been ridin’ for her. Even in mediocre rom-coms like The Proposal, Sandra is a joy to watch. Here, in Bird Box, our lovable heroine, named Malorie, is up to her blindfolded eyeballs in trouble. Seems that there is some kinda epidemic taking over the globe that’s causing normally sane people to kill themselves. And no one really knows why it’s Happening.
The previous capital H is on purpose, because Bird Box, based on a novel by Josh Malerman, bears a none-too-subtle resemblance to M. Night Shymalan’s 2008 mess The Happening. Only this time, it’s not the trees behind the mass suicides; it’s some unseen “creatures” who, once you see them, your eyes get all crusty, and you do yourself in.
But hold on. Some humans are immune to the creatures. They can look right at them, but instead of killing themselves, they become self-deputized agents of these creatures, and start helping the creatures with killing off the normies. Why? Well, it seems that if you’re slightly mentally unbalanced, or you already have homicidal tendencies, you think these creatures are beautiful. We never see the creatures; all we know is they have the ability to make leaves float. Oh, and birds don’t like them. Thankfully, there’re a few lovebirds in an abandoned supermarket who act as an early detection system.
So, what’s one to do? You cram those birds in a box, and row, row, row your boat down the river to what you hope is a safe haven. By the time Malorie can find that haven, her band of survivors is down to herself, and two five year-olds, boy Boy, and girl, um, Girl. The story shifts between the present-day dystopia, and five years prior, when all the sh*t hit the fan.
The flashback sequences play out with only a little bit of tension; we know that everyone except Malorie and the kids are going to die, but we don’t know how, or in what order. John Malkovich and Lil Rel Howery provide a few laughs portraying characters that aren’t all that removed from their usual types. And we see Malorie getting her groove back with a handsome younger man named Tom. The present-day scenes aren’t that tense either, because whatever predicament Malorie quickly finds herself and the kids in, is resolved just as quickly, and they continue rollin’ on the river.
The movie is entertaining, but it raises many questions that it doesn’t even attempt to answer. The book probably goes more into detail, but then, most books do; they’re books. So, is it better than The Happening? Sure, but that’s a pretty low hurdle to clear. Is it better than Bright? Ditto. Two and a half out of five stars.