Redefining the Genre, “Birdbox” Offers a New Apocalypse

The Hit Netflix Movie Challenges the Traditional End-of-the-World Film Archetype

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Redefining the Genre, “Birdbox” Offers a New Apocalypse

"Bird Box" is a post-apocalyptic film where an invisible force takes the form of an individual’s worst fears.

Megan Kelliher

"Bird Box" is a post-apocalyptic film where an invisible force takes the form of an individual’s worst fears.

Megan Kelliher

Megan Kelliher

"Bird Box" is a post-apocalyptic film where an invisible force takes the form of an individual’s worst fears.

Stella Engel-Werman, Contributing Writer

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Falcon rating: 4/5

The it’s-the-end-of-the-world-and-everyone’s-dying movie genre is an incredibly underrated one. From World War Z to The Day After Tomorrow, apocalypse movies rarely disappoint. For those looking for a new but thrilling take on the genre, Bird Box, a new Netflix original, is both an exception and a welcome addition to the genre.

In the film directed by Academy Award-winning Susanne Bier, a mysterious force quickly takes over the world, wreaking havoc and creating a global panic for survival. Varying for everyone, the phenomenon takes the form of the viewers’ worst fears, resulting in an urgent and immediate need to end their own life. Sandra Bullock, playing mother-to-be Mallory, leads the star-studded cast, including Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich, in a fight for their lives as they implement necessary techniques to avoid looking at the deadly force, including the infamous blindfolds as seen on the films cover image.

The story takes place within two narratives, with scenes alternating between the past and the present. One depicts Bullock, along with a scattering of other survivors, hunkered down in a house as they desperately attempt to outlive the unknown presence causing the terror around them. The other is five years later, as a blindfolded Mallory and two small children sightlessly make their way down a river in a small boat, in a final search for hope and safety. The layering of these two parts was satisfying at times and messy at others. I often found myself growing bored of watching Mallory frantically steer the boat down the river, wishing the story would return to the past where the storyline was less repetitive and significantly more enthralling.

The movie played on something as intrinsic as the sense of sight.”

What most struck me about Bird Box is how the movie played on something as intrinsic as the sense of sight. This, paired with the fact that the source of death was invisible (causing the horrors seen by the victims left up to the imagination of the audience), resulted in a film that was ominous and thrilling, capturing my undivided attention while leaving me nervous and uncomfortable, unsure of what I was afraid of.

Choosing Sandra Bullock to star as the protagonist pushed the film from good to great. Bullock’s harsh confidence was refreshing and captivating, allowing for a break from the hunky male-dominated genre of apocalypse movies. Don’t fear, however, for the movie was not without hunky men, with actor Trevante Rhodes—who starred in Moonlight—playing one of Bullock’s fellow housemates and love interest.

Though I finished the movie satisfied, I was also slightly disappointed. The highly dramatic and intriguing start to the film never quite reached its full potential, leaving me with many questions and wanting to know more. Despite this, the high-speed drama of Bird Box resulted in a highly entertaining two hours—a movie I will readily click in the “Watch Again” section of Netflix.

 

This piece also appears in our January print edition.