Opening on an instantly gripping note with a promise of more thrills waiting ahead, Bird Box paves a solid foundation during its first act yet fails to fully capitalise on it, thanks to the unnecessarily drawn out plot that allows the tension to dissipate, and the weak ending that wraps the entire journey on an underwhelming note.
The story is set into motion when an ominous unseen presence spreads across the globe, coercing those who see it into commit suicide. The plot is set 5 years into this post-apocalyptic future and concerns a mother of two who must make the perilous journey down a river to reach a possible safe haven; a journey that must be made blindly.
Directed by Susanne Bier (known for In A Better World), there is no denying that the premise is an interesting one and had amazing potential but the unrefined script is a definite shortcoming here as the director fails to keep things taut & tense throughout to deliver the edge-of-the-seat cinematic experience that was expected from it after the excellent opening act.
The subplot narrating the events that provides an account of what caused the global catastrophe and how it all led to the present scenario is where most issues lie, for it runs far too long, features too many characters & doesn’t even contribute to the final outcome. A prologue that simply conveys the fundamentals of this post-apocalyptic setting may have fared better.
The true potential lied in the dangerous journey down the treacherous river and had there been an attempt to make this segment more nail-biting & nerve-wracking than it already was, Bird Box may have finished as something far more memorable. The film doesn’t really earn its 124 minutes runtime, and that insane people part was by all means, an insane choice indeed.
The set up is brilliant. It creates just the right kind of intrigue without giving out a lot, and the decision to not show the supernatural entities works in the film’s favour too. But when you have too many characters, many are bound to make stupid decisions which then affects the whole ride. The technical aspects carry no major complaints, be it the skilful camerawork, apt sound design or fitting score.
As for the performances, Sandra Bullock plays her part responsibly and the two kids aren’t drawbacks either. Among the supporting cast, John Malkovich has no trouble coming off as a prick. Trevante Rhodes adds another fine act to his résumé. Sarah Paulson makes the most of her brief moments. Everyone plays their roles well but whether their character deserved their respective screen time is debatable.
Overall, Bird Box begins on an immensely promising note but finishes in a way that leaves a lot to be desired. The scares are intermittent yet effective plus the creepy vibe is sustained for the most part which may help keep the interest alive for many viewers but there was certainly room for much improvement here. A strong start marred by a downhill journey, Bird Box is another middling entry in both its genre as well as the Netflix canon.