Bird Box: the first unfortunate meme of the year and a paradox of bad quality but high popularity. This Netflix original, based on Josh Malerman’s novel Bird Box, stars several famous or rising stars, including Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, and Bradley Wong. The film explores a post-apocalyptic world, where taking a look at one of the monsters that seem to be everywhere will cause anybody to immediately commit suicide. For two hours and four minutes, viewers follow the journey of Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her two children down a river to safety, watching as her story unfolds in flashbacks over the span of five years.
Despite its popularity, Bird Box has received a multitude of unsatisfied reviews, including a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.7/10 on IMDb, and 51% on Metacritic. Many critics criticized the movie for its unoriginality, chunky timeline, and undeveloped characters, comparing it to previous sensory deprivation horror films like A Quiet Place. As Amy Nicholson put it, Bird Box is “forcibly screwed together, a movie manipulated by strings of data code,” not to mention the unfortunately uncreative death scenes. The film doesn’t delve deeply into the characters, especially with the hodgepodge of survivors who gathered in Greg’s house at the beginning of the movie. Each secondary character is assigned a title, like the pragmatic alcoholic or the protagonist’s lover, and these titles are never disputed— the characters fall short of dynamic and fail to make viewers care about them, except for when they die.
Favor for Bird Box is additionally lost through its illogical plot. First, the movie claims that the monsters are biological warfare, then supernatural entities, and does nothing to further either idea. These monsters also originated from Russia, yet how did so many spread across the ocean to America so quickly that almost everyone in Malorie’s town died within a few hours? Finally, these monsters apparently can’t interact with material objects, because otherwise they would have opened the doors of houses and killed people that way. So, what was the point of the monster chasing Malorie in the forest at the end of the movie, if it couldn’t physically harm her anyway? Sadly, these questions will never be answered.
All these fallacies in Bird Box and the movie’s silly premise created the perfect platform for memes. Most of the memes generated from Bird Box don’t even focus on the movie itself but rather on the use of the blindfold. These memes have grown quite popular, spreading to social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and even TikTok. The spread of such memes served to benefit the movie’s success, stirring up intrigue and interest, consequently making it the most successful Netflix original movie. So, perhaps the bad quality of Bird Box is in reality a marketing tactic; if so, it’s working very well.
Jokes aside, the premise of Bird Box does hold potential, even if it was marred by bad production. The multitude of plot holes could be seen as an opportunity for viewers to contemplate the meaning of the movie and form their own conclusions. Some critics also considered the interesting messages and themes of the movie. Bird Box tackles the intersection between people surviving for themselves and ensuring humankind’s survival, as well as Sandra Bullock’s character development as she grows from stoic and emotionally-distanced to nurturing and protective of her children. The film also connects to current day issues, as the monsters could represent the irrational fears of humankind in a rapidly changing modern world. People are only safe as long as they don’t confront their fears, staying inside and hiding instead of finding a way to deal with their issues. Thus, those who do see the monsters and see the beauty in their truth are considered insane and just as dangerous as the people’s fears.
After all this, would I recommend this movie? Yes—although I did burst out laughing at some points, the movie did draw me into its premise. Bird Box is trendy thanks to the memes, has quite a few really suspenseful moments, and is great for those who like to dissect movies. So, if anyone is looking for an interesting watch, and is willing to sit through some intense scenes, give Bird Box a chance!