Ok, ok, ok. I’m breathing. I’m not yelling. I’m breathing. And I literally just finished the movie Bird Box by Netflix with Sandra Bullock. And I must be insane. Right? Because I’m hyperventilating about some Netflix movie? (Ok, I’m probably insane, but decidedly NOT because I’m hyperventilating about this particular movie. That is just a different topic for a different day.) So yeah, I just finished this fantastic movie – and yet? I’m flipping out? What is up with that? Eric Heisserer! My friend (ok, so he’s not a friend in the real world, but in my mind he is dangit), you absolutely destroyed this screenplay… like, in a good way. It is so good! Anyway… I’m still freaking out.
But why? Oh, we’ll get to that later… for now though, I’m not 100% sure that you’ve even seen this movie yet. Or read the book. You can’t enter the inner sanctum of hyperventilation until you do one or the other, or better yet? Both. Ok? So trust me (and not all the other movie review sites that are giving this movie one big pile of MEH for reviews) that this is a great little movie. It’s got an all star cast. It’s got phenomenal acting. The directing and the screenplay are brilliant in that they solve a number of nearly impossible problems from the book. I mean, how do you film a movie where everyone that removes their blindfolds die? Yeah, you don’t. That is a huge cinematographic leap you have to make to solve before this can go to the big screen… and it does. It really does. So, do us all a favor, step away from the scroll button on your mouse, and click this link over to Netflix, and watch the film first before you go further down this page. I KNOW, it’s so hard. But we will be so very proud of you….. right after you show a freaking modicum of self control dangit! hehehe.
Come on. That looks like goodness. It’s really is a wonderful celluloid envisioning of a truly great novel, written by Josh Malerman. Over the past month or two, friends (some who’ve moved on to other jobs, moved away, or just don’t even like me anymore because of deeply personal rifts caused by my desire to eat all their chips… I’ve done it again, haven’t I?) have contacted me randomly and out of the blue to tell me that Bird Box is almost out, and they want to be sure I’m aware. You see, because I was the one that read the novel, Bird Box, and literally made everyone I knew read it. I was the one that didn’t take no for an answer… because the book was just that good. Because I was the one that ate their chips without cessation. (Again? Dang it.)
So yeah, I had really really high hopes for this movie. BUT I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT HOW IT COULD POSSIBLY MEET THEM. Why? Because the book was so fantastic. Just nigh on perfect. And yet, film? Living Technicolor? Are you kidding me? Only a lunatic would take this movie on. It’s just not a great career move. And yet, Susanne Bier, stood up to the plate, called her shot, and crushed a home run afterwards.
Bird Box Movie Walkthrough
The architectural layout of the movie and book are really quite different. And yet, the changes are understandably different. There are also key plot, and ending differences from the book as well, but we’ll talk about those differences later.
The movie opens with a woman, Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock – you know Speed Sandra Bullock, Gravity Sandra Bullock. Right.) and two children, drifting down a river, eyes covered, totally adrift. The film then jumps backwards in time, to a pregnant Malorie heading to the doctor for a physical. She and her sister, Jessica (played by Sarah Paulson of Martha Marcy May Marlene fame – which, as a freebee, is a movie I can’t recommend enough) discuss Malorie’s lack of desire to be a mother, and how she is going to cope once the day arrives. But while at Malorie’s appointment, there is an outbreak of insanity hitting the streets. They had known that something wrong was happening sprinkled around the globe, and now it has suddenly hammered the United States. And as they are leaving the hospital, Malorie watches as a woman bludgeons herself to death. And on the way home? Things only get worse when Jessica sees this uh, thing… too, crashes the car, and then steps into oncoming traffic. Suddenly, Malorie, finds herself pregnant and alone in the middle of a raging inferno of chaos all around her. But a woman, out of the blue, comes to get her, protects her, and then also sees this apparition. She then climbs inside a convenient burning car, and turns it into a makeshift pyre as she immolates herself.
Thankfully, Malorie is pulled into a nearby home owned by Greg. But Douglas (played the one and only John Malkovich, made famous by a million movies, the most appropriate for this site of course is Being John Malkovich) is 100% unhappy that she is there, having just watched his wife die to save her. Thankfully though, the other people taking shelter from the insanity on the streets took pity on the vulnerable pregnant woman and brought her in. Quickly, the people in the house learn that they have to cover up the windows, and stop looking outside. That whatever is going horribly wrong is caused by seeing something they shouldn’t. That to look outside is death. The band of merry survivors then begins to grieve their loved ones, and try to wrap their head around this new world they live in.
Eventually, the house turns to the mundane task of figuring out how to stay alive. Food and basic necessities are the main concern. And in time, a woman wanders up to the house, and group decides to allow her in. Turns out, she is pregnant, and due about the same time as Malorie. Oh fun. Douglas basically goes ape. And as the demand for food goes up, they decide to head out to Charlie’s super market, which, as luck would have it, he locked up before he left. (Ok, pause, I cry bull crap on this particular detail. This is an apocalypse and we are talking about an untouched grocery store? Protected by a padlock? Seriously? The front of the store is all plate glass! But I digress. We are going to let this particular detail go.) So five of them cover the cars windows, and buckle up for a ride of their lives.
And after a fairly uneventful grocery shopping event (all things considered), they hear a pounding at the back of the store. Apparently there was someone locked in the meat fridge, and he was talking about having been locked in, and that he wanted out. Uh, last I checked, this wasn’t a zombie was it? Sure enough, there was a madman inside the locker, and Charlie dives through to keep him from coming out. This, my friends, is the first hint that the “aliens” (or whatever) have different effects on different people. But let’s chat about that after the walkthrough.
Fast forward a bit, and we find Malorie and Olympia simultaneously going into labor. Which isn’t good, because it also happens to be the time when Gary goes completely bat-s%!& crazy. And begins killing everyone in the house. First Douglas, by opening up the garage door, as he systematically murders everyone in the house, until he is finally stopped by Tom before he can get to Malorie and the babies. (Gotta say, this scene in the book is one of the best scenes ever. It really was the culmination of a brilliant build up. Instead of drawings, Gary has a notebook he took from someone at the asylum I believe, who couldn’t stop talking about the creatures and how amazing they were. But in the book, we find out that the journal was actually Gary’s.)
So that leaves us with Tom, and Malorie… oh, and boy and girl. Then, one day, Tom gets a radio transmission calling out to them, and telling them that there is a safe haven. And that if they travel by the river they can make it. Well, obviously, it’s not as simple as all that if it takes her the entire movie to do it. And when Tom is bum-rushed by a group of non-blindfolded individuals, and killed, Malorie decides she is going to take the children and try to find this sanctuary. And off they go, drifting down the river for several days until they make it through the rapids, and then up the bank until they can follow the bird sounds to the school for the blind.
What Causes the Bird Box Madness?
The very first thing we have to talk about, more important than anything else, is the cause of the madness. Why? Because the movie isn’t clear at all. All we know is that the madness started in Russia somewhere, and then quickly made its way around the globe. Like, within the same day. So let’s talk about a few different explanations for what might be happening…
Theory #1 – Viral Zombie Madness Outbreak
If you’ve ever spent any time considering the speed of a zombie outbreak, you know it’s probably not that. I mean it’s too fast. Or maybe what about a fast paced viral outbreak, it’s even much too fast for that. And even with airplanes and international travel the way it is today it screams around the globe in the span of a single day. So, what could it be then? I mean, I guess it could have been aerosoled out onto the ground in a plane traveling that fast. But then, how do you account for the insanity, and suicides? Is it just in the air? I can’t see how this could be. Can you guys work out how this could be viral?
Theory #2 – International Psychotic Break
There was a movie in the last year or two where madness was spread via the television screens that are ubiquitous. But I can’t, for the life of me, think of what movie that was. Gr. Anyway, could it be that the global populace was hammered by psychosis rending TV rays? Well, that would account for the speed of its spread. But, no one was watching a TV when they were turned. Ok, so radio waves? Then why wasn’t everyone in the general proximity induced to commit suicide? It’s clearly caused by seeing something specifically – and generally the things they are seeing are outside. Hrrm… that doesn’t seem right either.
Theory #3 – Alien Invasion
Well, there are a number of things that the book makes infinitely clearer than the movie – and this is one of them. It is pretty widely understood in the book that this is some sort of alien visitor, that may or may not be hostile. It is posited that the aliens are just developed in such a way so as to cause madness in human viewers. They accidentally mirror back to the viewer their worst possible psychological fear that induces suicide. In the book the force spreading the suicidal impulses didn’t seem to be doing it intentionally. They could have even been friendly. But the spreading death might have been an accidental by-product of their accidental skin makeup.
Theory #4 – Fan Favorite… wait for it
But is there another theory here that can beat aliens? Glen, below in the comments drops some goodness on us all and brings to us a supernatural explanation for the movie. Which, I love. These rustling leaves are ANGELS – bringing an avenging fire! hahah. No seriously, there are Biblical accounts of vengeance poured out by angels – like for example Sodom and Gomorrah – the Angel of the Lord swept through the city and annihilated anyone that remained. Egypt – God Himself swept through through the city and killed every first born that didn’t have blood on the door posts. Or, what if its some other spiritual attack? Ghosts, the dead? It could totally have been some sort of evil uprising from the spiritual realm. I like it as one of the most realistic explanations of this confusing part of the movie.
The Effects of the Bird Box Aliens
I personally believe that the effect of the attack is an alien life form. Doesn’t mean you have to. I’m just leaning on the assumption of the book.
Anyway, as you watch this film, if you come to it without having read the book, you probably said more than once… “Now wait just a minute.” before things became plain. If, in fact, they did become clear that is. But there are two distinctly different responses to casting a glance at the aliens.
- Complete and utter insanity – that only results in the death of the person in question and those around them.
- The only other option is that it causes a sort of epiphanic state. An “enlightenment” as it were. Or a feeling of revelation that this vision needs to be shared with the rest of the world.
Why two different responses? We do know those who are mentally unstable have the secondary response, this euphoric epiphanic experience. Could it be that those who aren’t well adjusted see beauty and potential, where sane individuals see impossibility and doom?
About half way through the movie, the house gets a visit from a man named Gary (played by Tom Hollander of Pirates of the Caribbean fame). Well, we find out later that he has already seen the aliens, and yet, he isn’t suicidal… is he? Well, we know from his telling of the story that he was jumped by roaming inmates that had fled a local asylum. Who’s to say he isn’t one of the asylum inmates? And later on, we know that Tom (played by Trevante Rhodes) Malorie’s romantic counterpoint, is killed by a roaming gang that attempt to force any blindfolded people they find to look at the aliens. Could it be that they are recruited agents of the aliens intent on the destruction of the world’s last citizens? Or maybe their responses are just a chemical mistake that causes them to want to share the “greatness” that they themselves saw in the aliens?
The Ending of the Movie Bird Box Explained
Most of you reading this have probably been pretty intrigued by the details so far. Yeah, some are insane. Sure, sane people become suicidal. Got it. Right! And then you hit this section and you are finding yourself going… but there is literally nothing to explain. Malorie, boy, and girl made it to a refuge. They are surrounded by blind people because they can’t die from the aliens. The birds are a bonus detection system. What’s there to explain?
Well, you might find this as shock, but the book ending is really really different. I guess it’s literally the same, it’s a blind school, a refuge. But woah, is it really scary… and really dark. Instead of being this glorious refuge, it was a place where everyone new coming to the shelter deliberately blinded themselves as a form of protection. And it’s been a number of years since I read the book, but boy and girl are taken from Malorie intentionally. There are troughs, and shoots where they are herded through. Right? (I maybe making this up. But boy was that ending dark.) Rick, the head of the commune, sort of puts Malorie at ease telling her that they don’t blind people anymore… but wow did I not believe him, like AT ALL. It was a really dark ending.
But here, in the movie, it is so gloriously uplifting as to be shocking. Not only do Malorie and her children make it, but she reaches a point of catharsis that culminates in the naming of her children. She’s obviously avoided naming them in order to not get too attached. It’s a shockingly upbeat ending as the world burns around them. It’s not to say that the movie version of the ending isn’t perfectly done. There was no way that an American audience was going to swallow the book’s ending. Which, if you’ve read a single other post from THiNC. you’ll know I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what the standard American Audience would like. Create the best ending possible. And yet, one of the things I wasn’t really fond of in the book was the ending. I just didn’t know what to do with it. It was partially consoling and partially disconcerting? It was unsettling in its confusion.
A Final Thought on Netflix’s Bird Box Movie
Bird Box, the book, had one very important scene that couldn’t happen in the movie. Why? Well, because we never could see the creatures that were causing the chaos. Think about it though, in the book, it’s ok to describe the aliens because you still aren’t seeing them. But in the movie, the moment you show one of the aliens, you are supposed to die. Which, doesn’t work in movie adaptation. I even kept saying to myself, but how are they going to solve the alien problem? Who knew flying leaves was going to be the solution?!?
But anyway, in the book, there is a scene where Malorie feels the presence of a creature on the other side of her blindfold. She chooses to remain calm knowing that the danger relies 100% on her removing her blindfold, which, she is never going to do. But the creature, tries to remove her blindfold for her. It pulls at it. Curious as to what that thing is all about. And then it leaves, leaving Malorie unharmed. Which sort of put to bed – for me anyway – this question of whether or not the aliens are hostile or not. I do not believe that they are. But you are going to have to opine below as to what you think. Are they actively destroying the world? The movie seems to make them out as world destroyers, and the book leans another direction. What do you think of the aliens? Are they even aliens? What is going on here?
Edited by, CY
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