Netflix's post-apocalyptic thriller Bird Box debuted on Friday, taking viewers into a world where a mysterious entity has made even the simple act of looking out the window so dangerous that it could kill you. It's an interesting premise, one with a curious ending that bears taking another look at.
Warning: Spoilers for Bird Box below.
Based on the book of the same name by writer Josh Malerman, Bird Box stars Sandra Bullock as a woman named Malorie who, along with her two children, is struggling to survive in a world ravage by a mysterious entity that drives mad anyone who looks at it, causing people to violently kill themselves. The film moves back and forth between two timelines. Opening in the "present", Malorie harshly lays down the rules to her children, Boy and Girl, explaining that they cannot for any reason take off their blindfolds on the journey they are about to undertake before the flashing back five years to the beginning of what can only be termed an outbreak. It's important to note, before we break down the basic story leading up to the ending, that the story will jump between the present and the past several times over the course of the film.
In the first flashback, a pregnant Malorie is at a prenatal appointment with her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) when the entity strikes. Jessica crashes the car and then walks out in front of a truck and dies while Malorie soon after finds herself holed up in a house with fellow survivors -- those who have not seen and been warped by the mysterious entity -- including another pregnant woman. Unfortunately, they end up not being as safe as perhaps they would hope after a newcomer to their group rips off the window coverings and drives most of the survivors to suicide. Ultimately, all that is left of the group are Malorie, her son, the daughter of the now-deceased other pregnant woman, and a man named Tom (Trevante Rhodes.)
After years of living together as a family, Tom hears about a sanctuary down the river and the family prepares to go. Tom is killed -- or more specifically sacrifices himself for the safety of his family -- before they can depart, leaving Malorie and the children to undertake the perilous journey alone. After an extremely harrowing journey which includes a terrifying moment where the children are separated from Malorie after she suffers a fall and is rendered unconscious -- not to mention the entity tries to lure the children to remove their blindfolds -- the family makes it to the sanctuary which turns out to be school for the blind. There, Malorie and the children are able to remove their blindfolds as chirping birds will warn of the entity's presence. Finally safe, Malorie is able to at long last give her children a relatively normal life -- and names.
It's a surprisingly happy ending for a film that's seen so much death. It's also an ending that is slightly different form the novel. In the novel it's not a home for the blind but a group of people who deliberately blinded themselves for safety but according to Eric Heisserer who adapted Malerman's novel for screen, that change is a deliberate choice.
"I think there are plenty of horror directors who are like, 'No, we've got to end on the idea that humanity is screwed, and we're all doomed because that's life," Heisserer told Thrillist. "It seemed smarter for us to make that more of an optimistic ending. I'm one who generally leans towards a hopeful or optimistic ending even in dystopian horror movies. I'm not one to embrace nihilism considering that I feel like we're living in that world now."2comments
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Bird Box is now streaming on Netflix.