Yeah, I really didn’t like this movie, but this isn’t intended to be a rant or a hit piece. To be honest, my thoughts aren’t entirely negative, and I feel like there was a decently good movie left waiting to be discovered in the editing room.
While BIRD BOX isn’t outright terrible, I grew bored after about 40 minutes of watching relative nonsense. When it, seemingly, ended three hours later, I was left stunned; not simply by how hysterically underwhelming the movie is, but also by the positive word of mouth it received. Even outside of the meme onslaught, I kept reading and hearing about how “truly terrifying” BIRD BOX is, and was ready to enjoy a fun thrill ride. Instead, I got a lame and overly familiar story — punctuated by disposable characters and laughable plot developments.
With a movie like this (LAST SPOILER WARNING), it does not come as a complete surprise when the house full of the most diverse people possible are picked off one-by-one; leaving only Sandra Bullock (the star) and the children alive. The problem, however, is that you are given that information in the opening scene (set five years into the future). I have no idea if that choice was made in a desire to stay faithful to the source material, but that decision, ultimately, removes any sense of suspense — or need to care — for the majority of the characters we meet.
[Unlike the FINAL DESTINATION or SAW films, where the fun comes from watching elaborate and gruesome deaths, BIRD BOX offers few exciting moments; all tragically devoid of originality. Yeah, I watched M. Night Shyamalan’s THE HAPPENING back in 2008.]
It’s difficult to know if the blame lies more with director Susanne Bier (SERENA), or, most likely, the relatively-inexperienced editor Ben Lester, but BIRD BOX is a jump cut and continuity error-filled mess that feels like a misguided attempt to avoid pacing issues. Instead of allowing for emotional beats to flow naturally (or for any sense of much-needed gravity), scenes are chopped and butchered to hurry up any moment that might cause the average Netflix viewer to check their phone.
Speaking of the popular streaming service, it’s rather bizarre how the filmmakers and Netflix failed to take advantage of the available platform by not turning BIRD BOX into a miniseries (or something reminiscent of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE‘s critically-successful first season). A more faithful adaptation of Josh Malerman’s novel could have easily led to a final product that didn’t feel equal parts rushed and stretched to the limit. However, we were treated to a lazy production that became a pop culture moment simply due to viral marketing and availability. After 10 minutes of Hey-let’s-jump-in exposition, we are thrown into a shell of a story where characters immediately accept what’s going on without explanation, or any sign of real human emotion. For instance, if my wife ran outside to help a total stranger, and ended up taking a seat in a burning car, my initial response would probably include some level of shock or sadness. You know, something before I have to firmly establish myself as a human antagonist.
The duel births, the romantic subplot, the twist involving Gary — from dialogue to acting, nothing in BIRD BOX is ever given a chance to feel natural. Was the point of including Machine Gun Kelly and Rosa Salazar in the production simply to have a barely-visible sex scene? And why did it seem like every other minority character was there to save the white ones? Hell, I think I mentally checked out, for good, once John Malkovich was trapped in a garage that had a sizeable glass window on the door.
Shit. I guess the majority of my thoughts ARE negative. My bad.
Two out of Five Beers.