[Nfbc-info] Bird Box

Frida Aizenman nfbfrida at gmail.com
Sat Jan 5 18:42:52 UTC 2019

Yesterday, I was watching the news in Telemundo, and I found out that, 
courtesy of Netflix, after watching the movie Bird Box, millenniums walk 
around everywhere with sleepshades, but no canes!
Read on:
'Bird Box' Ending Explained: How Movie Changed Book for the Worse
The Hollywood Reporter

January 04, 2019  1:10pm PT by  Andy Crump

How 'Bird Box' Tweaked the Book's Ending
It's a small shift, but one that is more important than you might think.
Courtesy of Netflix

It's a small shift, but one that is more important than you might think.
[This story contains spoilers for both Bird Box
  and A Quiet Place]

When the world's on fire and the only way to allay suicidal impulses 
stirred up by induced psychosis is to shut your eyes, a blindfold is 
your best chance
of survival. We don't live in that world, thankfully, but that's not 
stopping people from blindfolding themselves anyway to see if they can 
hack it in
a post-apocalypse scenario where eyesight's a bane rather than a boon; 
they're caught up in the
Bird Box challenge
, the first quantifiable (and totally absurd) byproduct of the Netflix 
original film's unexpected popularity.

It's a near guarantee that Bird Box's inexplicable mass appeal will 
yield better returns than social media trends as time moves on; the 
streaming service
has declared it their most popular film to date, a claim equally as 
dubious as palatable. On one hand, Netflix hasn't yet verified the 
roughly 45,000,000
account figure they
posted to Twitter
  the week after
Bird Box's premiere on Dec. 21. On the other, social media has gone full 
goose bozo over the movie since it went to air. Putting too much stock 
in Twitter
reactions as a gauge of a pop culture totem's
true popularity is a rookie mistake, that's for certain, but when a 
movie like
Bird Box forms enough of a fan base to inspire its own self-titled 
challenge, well, that movie's obviously
doing something right .

Here, "something right" specifically refers to casting, perhaps, or 
speaks to the temperature of the day and pop culture's increased 
fixation on apocalypse,
or maybe audiences liked
A Quiet Place so much that what's essentially "what if
A Quiet Place but for eyeballs" has unintended built-in allure. For all 
their doom and gloom, these films are, in their fashion, optimistic: 
Mankind prevails
over evil, whether extraterrestrial or otherworldly, triumphant but 
steeled for whatever comes next, be it more monsters, as in the case of
A Quiet Place, or a life confined within the walls and beneath the 
forest canopy of a school for the blind smack dab in the middle of 
Nowhere, Northwestern
USA, as in the case of
Bird Box.

There's a respectable internal logic to A Quiet Place's conclusion
: After a noisy battle with one aurally enhanced alien beast, it stands 
to reason that other aurally enhanced alien beasts might hustle on over 
to see
what's shakin'. Emily Blunt cocks her shotgun.
Millicent Simmonds
  readies her sound amplifying doohickey. Cut to credits. But the ending of
Bird Box defies such logic in favor of contrivance, which isn't the 
fault of the film per se; director Susanne Bier and writer Eric 
Heisserer merely adapted
the story from the 2014 Josh Malerman novel of the same name, condensing 
its plot and swapping its setting for the sake of economy and a stronger 
palette. (The American northwest is ever so much more striking than 
Detroit.) It's not their original work. So when Malorie (Sandra Bullock) 
and her two
kids, Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Boy (Julian Edwards), arrive at the 
formerly disused, newly inhabited Janet Tucker School for the Blind, 
that's in keeping
with Malerman's intention.

But Malerman at least made blindness a choice. In his book, the 
survivors Malorie encounters in the greenhouse safe haven she's been 
searching for have
blinded themselves on purpose, having realized that blindness makes them 
immune to the insane wiles of the eldritch, invisible creatures haunting 
In Bier's movie, well, the people she meets are presumably blind by 
natural causes, whether they were born blind or became blind in life. On 
its own, that's
not a particularly big ask, but coupled with that whole "school for the 
blind" thing, and
Bird Box's climax reads as aggressively convenient. Who builds a place 
of learning for blind people
in the middle of the woods? Near a raging river
? Totally separated from all civilization?

Maybe Bier simply didn't have the time or the budget to pull back and 
show us that Janet Tucker did in fact have the good sense to built her 
school adjacent
to highways, emergency services, and other essential amenities of modern 
day living. But
Bird Box shows us no such accomodations, and gives no such consideration 
to her residents' impairment; put bluntly, the creative decision making 
here is
straight-up bizarre, and that's not even getting into the function of 
the building itself, wrapped around an atrium that's covered by tree 
branches. Apparently,
fauna's enough of a barrier to keep the whispering, malevolent entities 
tormenting the planet out of an enclosed space. If only someone had run 
that by
the cast earlier and saved them the time and effort of slapping 
newspapers over every window in sight.

Bird Box wraps up too neatly, too cleanly, with too much security; if 
the magical leaf blockade that wards off evil (but also somehow lets in 
ample light
for all the survivors who
aren't blind!) isn't enough, then let the appearance of Dr. Lapham 
(Parminder Nagra), Malorie's OB-GYN, last seen admonishing our hero 
against drinking
while pregnant, serve as the punctuation mark to the film's artifice. 
Everyone's happy and snug beneath the treetops; the story forms a 
complete circuit.
Not that that'd stop Netflix from funding a sequel, mind you. If a 
sequel can be
spun out of
A Quiet Place
, a sequel can be spun out of Bird Box, no matter the narrative 
gymnastics required to make it happen.

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