“Bird Box” Tries to Get to the Heart of What Humanity Can’t Bare to See

Bird Box, a Netflix apocalyptic thriller about creatures so disturbing to humans they commit suicide to those who see them, deals with displaying how humanity copes and responds to the unimaginably horrific, their worst fears come to life.

For the title character, Malorie played by Sandra Bullock, that fear is motherhood, having to be responsible for someone other than herself because the fate of humanity depends on it. Bullock does it with all the grit and determination in her soul even though her heart doesn’t proclaim the usual motherly devotion. That usually would make Malorie the villain (her name even echoes that) in any other movie, but Bullock’s performance which combines her inherent screen like ability with deep felt honesty and unwavering sincerity has the audience warming up to and rooting for her.

Therefore director Susanna Bier has no need to show the monster out there when the real victory requires Bullock overcoming the internal one. At one point the producers insisted that the monster be shown, but the results were so bad and laughable (“a snake with a baby’s head”, is how Bullock described it) that the cast couldn’t do a straight take.

A good cast that includes John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Lil Rel Howery, Jackie Weaver and Danielle McDonald, in roles that amount to extended cameos, does a good job of being place holders for fears on a death watch, until Bullock can rightly assume the main maternal one under assault. Bullock is more than open to the acting challenge.

Bird Box works best when it relies on the horrors of our imagination to fill in the dark spaces. Make sure you have a good one.

All photos and videos courtesy of Netflix.

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