WARNING: THE MOVIE BIRD BOX CAN BE UPSETTING TO THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. THIS ARTICLE EXPLAINS AND DESCRIBES THE PLOT OF THE MOVIE.
In case you missed it, Bird Box had everybody on Twitter going insane with their feelings on multiple incidents within the film. With mixed reviews, ultimately I thought the writing was absolutely amazing. The general plot of the story is that Mallory (Sandra Bullock) is with her sister (Sarah Paulson) when she’s getting an ultrasound of her baby who’s coming any day now. When Mallory’s sister is driving her back home, havoc breaks around the streets of their city.
People are intentionally crashing their cars into one another’s, banging their heads against windows repeatedly until they collapse, and killing themselves in anyway they possibly can as they blankly stare up into the sky. Mallory seems to not notice anything, but her sister stares through the windshield and becomes entranced before crashing the car and making it flip. When it doesn’t harm either of the women, Mallory’s sister climbs out of the car and stands in front of a large truck that’s driving extremely quickly, leaving the audience with the conclusion she’s died. Due to Mallory being so far in her pregnancy, she’s quickly spotted by a woman staying in a large house with her husband and the owner of the house. She runs outside to help Mallory in but starts speaking to her mother, who has died 10 years prior. She steps out into the street as well, while Mallory rushes inside and closes the door behind her. The woman’s husband, Douglas, is instantly full of hatred towards Mallory for being saved at his wife’s expense, but takes no action against her. This all immediately throws us into the movie, and into this awfully dreadful new world.
*** SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT FORWARD ***
The movie switches timelines between the present and the beginning of these events (I’ll explain it chronologically for simplicity). The present timeline shows Mallory taking two children (a boy and a girl, named “Boy” and “Girl”) down a river, but they remain blindfolded the entire voyage to avoid looking up at the sky or anywhere around them. There’s a bit of uncertainty of what exactly they want or what they expect to find, but the assumption is that the cabin they were staying in was no longer safe or had food.
For the duration of the movie, I could only describe the thing making people become suicidal as a force or all-consuming presence. It’s nothing terrifying, you don’t even ever see anything. It’s just leaves and wind blowing, light murmuring of voices, and nothing beyond that throughout any of the plot. But that kind of makes it more uncomfortable and uneasy than your average demonic jump scare. So this tactic deserved major points in my opinion since so many modern thrillers rely solely on a scary face jumping out of nowhere.
After Mallory joins the house of people, she meets a female cop, a male druggie, a man named Tom, a grocery store employee, an elderly woman, the owner of the house, and Douglas. Later in the night they let in another pregnant woman named Olivia who’s husband is deployed. She’s much more needy than Mallory who’s been on her own for most of her life, except for the help of her sister. So she handles being pregnant and alone much worse than Mallory does. With 7 people plus two pregnant women, the food goes fast and it’s decided that the man who works at the grocery store and has a key should take a few people in the car to take more food. After painting the car windows black and setting up the GPS to take them there with voice directions, they slowly begin their trip. The driver, Tom, keeps hitting what he tells everyone to call “speed bumps”, but as there’s crunching and snapping sounds underneath the tires, the passengers realize they’re running over the bodies of their neighbors. When they arrive at the grocery store, they park and blindfold themselves to get inside before blacking out the windows once more. After stocking up their carts, there’s a banging coming from the loading dock door which is locked. The grocery store employee moves towards it, asking who’s there before recognizing it’s one of his co-workers. He tells the rest of the survivors that he used to be in the looney bin, but he was super nice. After opening the door to let him in, the man pulls him and tells him to open his eyes and look, because “it’s beautiful.” The viewer won’t quite understand yet, but it later becomes apparent that those who are mentally unstable in some form are immune to the affects of the “force” that’s causing most people to end their lives. What my theory on this was is that the people who find it “beautiful” or “comforting” have experienced the all encompassing fear, depression, or instability that the force brings these regular people, and because of that it has no affect on them. Someone with suicidal tendencies or behavior for example would experience that urge everyday, so maybe the force isn’t strong enough or anything new they’re experiencing. Same could be applied to schizophrenia for hearing the voices or seeing something that’s not there, they could potentially tune it out as “not being there” whether it be naturally developed over time or with medication. The comforting aspect could be the idea that now everyone is experiencing the same tendencies, urges, and pain they have all along. The movie gives no answers to this question and many others.
Some members of the house are picked off (the owner, the grocery store employee, and the druggie and cop take off together with all the food – go figure). Which leaves Tom, Douglas, Mallory, Olivia, and the elderly woman. Olivia, (who later reveals to Mallory that she’s a softie and has been coddled her whole life), lets in a man in a suit who says an escapee of one of the insane asylum’s pried his eyes open in an attempt to make him see the force. Douglas wants to get rid of him and says not only do they not need another person, but also they don’t know who they can trust. Tom locks Douglas in the garage after Douglas threatens the man’s life, and he sleeps there over night. The next morning, both Mallory and Olivia go into labor. While Olivia’s contractions begin first Mallory delivers first with the help of the elderly woman.
Douglas remains locked in the garage downstairs as the man begins playing odd music, drawing dark figures and acting like a complete creep. After tearing down the blinds in the downstairs part of the house, he lurks upstairs to where everybody else is and begins asking to hold Olivia’s daughter. She smiles uncomfortably and shows her to him instead. He compliments her and looks at Mallory’s baby boy before he begins ripping down the blinds upstairs as well, trying to expose not only the women but the children to the force outside. Mallory rips Olivia’s daughter from her arms as Olivia throws herself out of the window, and the elderly woman who helped deliver their babies stabs herself in the throat with a pair of scissors. When Tom and Douglas try to kill the man, he stabs Douglas and Tom manages to shoot him just in time.
With Tom and Mallory alone with the kids, they raise them together except Mallory refuses to name either child. She refers to them as Boy and Girl, and scolds Tom after he tries to tell them a story about what the outdoors look like, and how he wants a future for them to play with other kids, see animals, and climb trees. She calls it false hope, he calls it dreams and giving them something to live for. He also calls her out on not naming the children. Again, the reasoning for this was never explained but my personal guess was that she didn’t want to name two young children who she could easily lose at any given moment and grow that attachment and motherly bond. In fact, the Boy doesn’t even know Mallory is his mother and they both refer to Mallory by her name, not mom or mommy despite the fact that they’re only five years old.
When more escapees from the insane asylum circle the home, Tom has Mallory leave with both kids, causing him to lose his life when he kills the intruders. That’s when she escapes to the cabin she later leaves to go down the river. The boat tips twice, causing the children to fall out but she finds them (blindfolded!) and eventually they make it to land. Throughout the trek, Mallory hears Tom’s voice due to the force trying to make her take off her blindfold. Somehow, it’s able to use the voices of your loved ones who are missing or have passed in order to make you want to see them. She resists, and is able to continue walking through the woods. Eventually they discover a home for the blind where a man named Rick lets them in. The place is practically a sanctuary where it’s domed up, the children are free to play, birds fly and dogs live inside, and Mallory releases three birds she carried in a box. They remained with her because they made noise when the force was close by. At the end of the film, Mallory runs into her doctor who she saw right before her sister died. And when she asks what their names are, the children start to respond with “Boy” and “Girl” but Mallory corrects them. She tells the girl her name is Olivia, after her mother. And she tells the boy his name is Tom, and that she is his mother.
Overall, I thought Netflix did an amazing job on another thriller. The story was suspenseful, well-written, and kept you interested the entire time. Stephen King commented once again on Twitter with praise, and I can honestly say I’ll be watching it again.