In this spring’s sleeper horror hit A Quiet Place, the mere act of making a sound was lethal bait for the bogeyman; if it hears you, it will come. The new Sandra Bullock Netflix thriller Bird Box hinges on turning another basic human sense into a waking nightmare: sight.
Things have been going to hell for a while already, although Bullock’s self-sufficient Malorie has hardly noticed. She’s too busy painting in her California studio and feeling conflicted about her “condition” (there’s a baby growing inside her, whether she’s ready or not). It’s her sister (Sarah Paulson) who drags her out into the world, where an epidemic of unexplained suicides seems to be hypnotizing the population.
It takes several hard lessons to learn that vision is the trigger; see no evil, and you might not take a pair of scissors to your own neck or walk into a burning car. Soon a heavily pregnant Malorie is holed up in a house full of survivors cast like a delightfully weird salad of celebrity Mad Libs: John Malkovich, Machine Gun Kelly, Jacki Weaver, Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes.
As Bird time-jumps between the claustrophobic action of the house and a desperate sort of jailbreak, director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager) keeps the mood taut and defiantly in the moment. There is no bigger how or why, just bare survival and a steely Bullock — suddenly, fiercely ready to fight for a half-lived life. B