By Jule Windeler
When I visit social networks at the moment – as for example Instagram – I cannot help but come across posts concerning the movie “Bird Box” that was released at the end of last year. “Bird Box,” a dystopian thriller set in the United States, depicts monsters that take over the planet and drive people to suicide. There is a huge hype about the movie. My friends recommended it to me and many people are posting pictures and scenes from the movie online. Whereas the thriller appears to be very successful based on viewer numbers and the attention it gets, there are just as many viewers that criticize it. While this is probably the case with every movie, simply because different people have different preferences and opinions, there is a strikingly high number of negative reviews on “Bird Box”. That is actually surprising, when considering the movie’s popularity. Personally, I really liked the movie and I believe that the negative reviews mainly result from people’s unrealistic expectations because the movie is so popular. It is pretty much advertised as the best movie of the year which is a statement that is bound to cause disappointment.
“Bird Box” is about a young woman named Malory, portrayed by Sandra Bullock, who tries to save herself and her children from the monsters that have caused death to most of the population. Looking at the monsters makes people kill themselves, which is why the family has to travel with blindfolds on while they try to get to a safe place. Many people criticize the fact that the movie has some plot holes, such as the ongoing access to electricity despite of the apocalypse, or the fact that the monsters seem to be unable to enter any kind of building. Since these circumstances are never explained during the movie, it is a little confusing to the viewer. I agree with this argument, even though I think that these are minor discrepancies. As soon as a movie or TV-show deals with anything supernatural, there will always be small inconsistencies.
Another aspect of the movie that is ridiculed is the names of the two children. They are both born when the monsters have already destroyed much of civilization and instead of giving them real names, Malory simply calls them “Boy” and “Girl”. It is only at the very end of the movie that she gives her children proper names. While many people seem to find the names rather ridiculous, I think that it is in fact a good way emphasize the seriousness and the dangers of the whole situation. Almost during the whole movie it is obvious that Malory does not want to get attached to her children and that her only priority is for all of them to survive. In that context the names are quite fitting because they show this lack of emotional attachment. Only when the family has reached the safe place in the end, Malory actually names her children and refers to herself as their mother.
I understand people’s criticism concerning these aspects of the movie. However, I do not think that they justify the amount of bad ratings “Bird Box” is getting. While reading through viewer’s comments on YouTube, I found another point that several people criticize, namely the similarities of “Bird Box” with other movies. Two examples that are mentioned repeatedly are “A Quiet Place” (2018) and “The Happening” (2008). “A Quiet Place” is about a family that has to live in absolute silence in order to avoid being killed by monsters that are attracted by noise and I can definitely see why people complain about the similarity between these two movies. On the other hand, “Bird Box” is based on a novel that already came out in 2014 – four years before “A Quiet Place” was released. “Bird Box” did not steal its plot from “A Quiet Place”. Concerning “The Happening”, the only parallel between the two movies is the occurrence of some spirit or higher power that leads people to commit suicide. Apart from that the two stories are very different. And to be fair: how many horror movies start out with a family moving into a new house? Nobody seems to have a problem with that.
One last thing I came across while going through reviews was a person criticizing the movie’s characters. Their complaint was that “Bird Box” has a female main character, a person of color, a homosexual man and an interracial couple who all appeared in the movie for the sole sake of minority representation. That comment left me annoyed. My point is not that every good movie needs a gay character but I still think that this kind of diverse representation in movies is important and I do not see the point in complaining about that. We have come a long way to actually have this kind of representation in recent movies and if all characters where straight, white men, people would complain just as much.
My conclusion, then, is that “Bird Box” does not deserve the hatred and mockery it is receiving at the moment. In my opinion it is an average movie that I would recommend to people who like watching thrillers. The aspects that are criticized by viewers are all minor issues and I believe that the high expectations people had in the movie are the main reason for its negative reviews. “Bird Box” may not be the best movie ever made and I do not think that it deserves the hype it gets – but all in all it is a good movie with just as many flaws as many others.