FILM REVIEW: Bird Box struggled to excite despite great streaming success for Netflix

BIRD BOX . . . . Directed by Susanne Bier, starring  Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Jacki Weaver. Inset, 'Journal' Film Critic, Sean Coyle.
BIRD BOX . . . . Directed by Susanne Bier, starring Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Jacki Weaver. Inset, 'Journal' Film Critic, Sean Coyle.

With most studios usually not putting out new releases in the first week of the year, rather wisely as they assume most moviegoers will be strapped for cash after all their Christmas spending, I thought I would review one of the most talked about films over the festive period. Netflix’s “Bird Box” was released just before Christmas without much build-up or advertising. And yet, in the space of a few weeks, it has become one of the streaming services most successful films, whilst also becoming an internet craze, inspiring a plethora of memes such as the “Bird Box Challenge.” So what has been the recipe for this success? Well, frankly, I’m not sure as the film is as mediocre as they come.

When a mysterious force decimates the world’s population, only one thing is certain - if you see it, you die.

The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears and convinces them to commit suicide.

Holed up in a suburban house the group of survivors try to concoct a plan to escape without seeing the mysterious entity.

The plot is standard for the survival genre, but the invisible foe does pique your interest for the first while.

There is a rule in cinema that ‘Nothing is Scarier’, the idea that if we don’t see the monster the image we create in our minds will be more horrifying.

S�an Coyle

S�an Coyle

This is true, however it only works if the monster is built up as frightening in the first place through subtle hints, yet in this film we see nothing . . . literally nothing bar a few blown leaves.

The monster was due to appear but looked so ridiculous that it was cut at the last minute, apparently resembling a “long fat baby”, according to lead star Sandra Bullock.

Another issue, and there are many, is that the script is so clunky and cliched that you know how the film will play out from the first minute.

Most of the characters are 2D and signpost absolutely everything that’s going to happen, making the film truly tedious.

There is also a strange attempt at humour in scenes that require none, creating a very strange tone.

As for action sequences and suspense, which the film could redeem itself on, it is pedestrian and by the numbers, creating no real thrills.

Bird Boc kept reminding me of a zombie film when I watched due to it sharing many similar tropes, but at least with the zombie genre, which can be very formulaic itself, you have the constant threat of those grotesque creatures.

Here, with the threat invisible, the filmmakers really struggle to create any sort of scares and are not helped by forgettable characters, action and a poor script.