"Bird Box" Review: What Could Have Been vs. What Is


Bird Box is a hybrid of A Quiet Place and The Happening. So it’s not surprising that it lands in the middle of the two. It soars in its elements of suspense and perhaps the all too familiar, “what would you do in a post-apocalyptic setting?” theme! It also crashes in its pacing and character development. So the real question is, should you lift your blindfold and watch the movie? I think the gander won’t kill you!

The film starts out with Malorie (Sandra Bullock) giving life or death instructions to two little children she calls Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Boy (Julian Edwards). She’s not just giving them instructions, she’s telling us the rules for the world they’re living in and the road we’re about to travel. It’s intense, it’s mysterious and it’s engaging. Then we’re thrust back in time, just five years prior, to a pregnant Malorie and a world in which things are starting to go awry.


A menacing force that turns people suicidal when they look at it has reached the United States. After joining a house full of survivors barricaded inside a home, Malorie and her companions spend time trying to understand what they’re up against and live to see another day. Perhaps that’s a poor choice of words as they have to stay blindfolded whenever they venture out, but you get what I mean.

Bird Box landed on Netflix at a perfect time. Released over the holidays, when people are home and looking to be entertained, the film does just that. At its core, the movie is a character study into who we are as human beings in the worst of times. Malorie is a mother willing to do anything to keep her children safe from harm. Braving scavenger runs into houses with people who have become the entity’s helpers due to their mental illness (which was a concept that could have been explored more) and blindly taking on river rapids, she’s the embodiment of perfect love driving out fear. 


The issue with the film is that it spends less time developing its characters and more time introducing characters just enough to set up inevitable kills. Perhaps the film could have been better as a series, especially given the nature of the streaming distributor. With more time to let us sink into the world, it could have been a binge worthy series. I would have loved to explore Malorie and Tom’s (Trevante Rhodes) journey over the course of five years growing accustomed to the new normal while facing threats. The concept of the mentally ill hunting for people to expose to the outside dangerous entity is the things that "The Purge” is made of. Instead, it has to rush its pacing by nature of a two hour sci-fi drama and awkwardly jumps through time to tell the story.

With solid performances from Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Sara Paulson,  and Lil Rel Howery, I think the disappointment is what the film could have been versus what it is. Still, it should be an entertaining watch for Netflix users! It’s not like you spent any extra money to see it and you’ve already paid for access to see it. So by all means, take the gander and come to your own conclusion! 

Rating: C+


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.