Netflix has upped its game, presenting a more demanding film shortly after the artistic triumph of Roma. The shift is noticeable; just last year, the platform offered us the intriguing yet B-grade Bright, starring Will Smith. Now, Netflix has managed to attract a proven acting star and an acclaimed director for a collaboration that, while not revolutionary, will certainly entertain viewers looking for an alternative to holiday fare.
Sandra Bullock has been selective with her roles in recent years. This year, she appeared as Debbie in a lackluster spin-off that failed to make a significant impact. However, Bullock shines brightest when her characters are at their most vulnerable, and she delivers again here. Told in two timelines five years apart, we first see her pregnant, and later caring for two children. If you’re unaware that Bullock is over fifty, her portrayal of an expectant mother will not bother you; and even if you are, it’s easy to overlook.
The story kicks off with Bullock’s character joining a group of survivors as they face a mysterious epidemic that drives people to commit suicide. Standouts from this diverse group include a misanthropic alcoholic, played by John Malkovich, and a self-assured charmer, portrayed by Trevante Rhodes. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that Bullock and her children will survive, but the question remains: at what cost?
The film’s premise might remind viewers of A Quiet Place, as it also involves sensory deprivation—this time, sight instead of sound. However, it’s worth noting that this is not a rip-off but an adaptation of a decade-old novel. Therefore, the unfortunate similarities can mostly be attributed to timing.
The screenplay was penned by Eric Heisserer, who also wrote the acclaimed Arrival, and is directed by Susanne Bier, an Oscar-winning Danish director. Bier demonstrates her knack for timing and tension, although some of her attempts to shock the audience occasionally border on excessive. Heisserer, meanwhile, focuses on character development and the exploration of human limitations. While the film neglects to provide an in-depth explanation of the mysterious epidemic, its primary aim is to thrust its characters into extreme conditions, which it does effectively.
Overall, the movie succeeds in keeping the audience engaged thanks to a compelling atmosphere and Sandra Bullock’s strong performance. It also signals Netflix’s willingness to delve into more challenging material, both in terms of explicit violence and emotional depth. However, for the film to be considered a groundbreaking work, it leaves too many thematic elements underexplored.
Watch Bird Box For Free On Gomovies.