Bird Box (Netflix): Review by Little Sister Hayes
I will always be a loyal fan of Reese Witherspoon but on this movie she and I part ways. Her tweet heard round the world that Bird Box was the scariest movie of 2018 is something I’m going to politely choose to forget about so that I can continue to be her loyal fan. Prior to watching Bird Box, I used to say that the worst movie I’d ever seen was The Squid and the Whale (2005) but sadly Bird Box ties with that film for low points in my cinematic experience. This film contains nothing innovative or noteworthy. The best I can say about it is that Trevante Rhodes comes across as kind and admirable - but I also feel like he was playing himself.
This film follows 2018’s trend of “let’s take away one of our senses and see what happens in a apocalyptic context.” In that respect it’s a close cousin of A Quiet Place and it also feels like a mashup of I am Legend (2007) and Apocalypse Now (1979). The Apocalypse Now reference is especially strong as the party completes their terrifying river cruise seeking their only hope (Rick) with their sight literally blocked off. For those familiar with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (the novel on which Apocalypse Now was based), the nightmarish river cruise metaphor is carefully followed all the way through, even including horrifying roles for both scissors and string that correspond with those in the novel. Ironically, since I recently mentioned in another review the “leaves on the move” that are a mainstay in Mary Poppins Returns, it’s humorous to me that the enemy in this film is indicated by the presence of -yes it’s true- leaves on the movie. (I joked with my brother that Disney and Netflix must have been renting all the LA leaf blower machines on the same days. Meow.)
Even though I’m a fan of Sandra Bullock, in this instance her character shows remarkably little dimension and her positive “transformation” at the end is abrupt and unconvincing. In fairness to Sandra, that could be because the film seems to run out of time at the end - but since she is also Executive Producer there seems to be little excuse for such plot gaps. This role simply feels like her heart wasn’t in it.
In addition to Trevante Rhodes being a believable hero, the other good thing I can say about this film is that the art direction is on point. Art director Bryan Lane designed sets for such films as Straight Outta Compton (2015), Ghost Busters (2016), Nocturnal Animals (hear my brother discuss that movie in the October 30, 2017 episode of the Kush and Kai Show) (2016), and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017). In this movie he utilizes a palette of Autumn jewel tones and the entire film seems to have a cool tone lens filter. The Redwood paneling of the historic Julia Morgan-esque home where the majority of the interior scenes take place is also quite attractive. Reading between the lines though, if all I can find to commend in this movie is attractive flooring and one cast member, things aren’t looking good.
I’ll not be able to get this particular 2 hours 4 minutes of my life back, but if you haven’t seen it yet it’s not too late to save yourself. In recognition of Trevante Rhodes and Bryan Lane’s efforts I give this film:
1 out of 6 blueberries.
Netflix Release Date: December 21, 2018
Run Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes