I feel like I must have been watching a different film from everybody else because the film that I watched had terrible pacing, lack of suspense, characters used as nothing more than plot devices, and a story that took itself too seriously for how poorly it was executed.
The biggest complaint that I have is that Bird Box had no idea what kind of horror/thriller film it wanted to be. Did it want to be about sensory deprivation? Did it want to be a science fiction film? Or did it want to be a monster movie? Instead of executing one of these concepts really well, all three were intertwined poorly. The good cast was wasted on bad writing. It’s frustrating because that good cast, consisting of Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich to name a few, is how they drew people in. Each character was generic. There was nothing to them. All the characters were nothing but filler. Filler until we could get to the point where the film begins. And, that’s another huge problem. The film begins with us knowing that it’s only Mallory, Bullock’s character, and the two children left, effectively removing any suspense from the rest of the film. We know all the people we are meeting are already dead. So, what’s the point?
The pacing is horrendous. This film’s run time sits at two hours and four minutes. That’s about an hour too long. This film would have worked as a short film, cutting all the filler. It would have been solid if it solely focused on Mallory and didn’t bother with all the other side characters. Another way to fix the pacing? Pick which story you want to focus on. Do you want to focus on showing us how it started? Or do you want to focus on the present? If focusing on how this whole thing started, great. They could have ended with some suspense, ending right before Mallory and the kids leave the house. OR they could have focused on the present, having only small flashbacks to the past, therefore leaving us questioning what happened during the whole film. At least then that would have kept our focus. Instead, we spend most of the movie in the past, already knowing that the characters we are meeting are dead. The movie opens with Mallory and the children in the house where we spend most of the film, and she’s prepping them on leaving. Now, the only character we know enough about is Mallory. Therefore, we can assume that she would not leave that house unless absolutely necessary, like all the people are dead and the house is compromised.
The secondary villains in this film are problematic. It’s established early on in the film that those who are mentally unstable or mentally ill will not kill themselves when exposed to whatever the hell the primary villain is. Instead, they go after others to kill them. This is first brought up with the character known as “Fish Fingers” at the grocery store. Lil Rel Howery’s character, Charlie (who is criminally underused), states that the guy behind the door is a little unstable, but he was always nice to him. This is later reiterated with the man brought into the house who was being held at a hospital for the criminally insane. Do you see why these secondary villains are problematic? It does nothing good for the already stigmatized mental health community.
Overall, Bird Box tries to be cleverer than it actually is. It’s filled with clichés and will bore and frustrate you for two hours and four minutes. And, remember, those are two hours and four minutes of your life that you can’t get back. Man, this is just like the time I watched The Village.