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Film / Bird Box

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Bird Box is a film adaptation of the book with the same name written by Josh Malerman, directed by Susanne Bier and released in 2018 as a Netflix original. The film stars Sandra Bullock as the main character, Malorie, as an invasion of bizarre creatures, whose mere appearance causes people to commit suicide, appear rampant on Earth. Malorie, with her two children, must flee down a river while blindfolded to find safe haven. The story alternates between the beginning of the disaster and Malorie's initial days of survival, and the present journey of Malorie and the children.


The film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the novel, the nature of the creatures was even more passive and vague, and it was left unclear whether they were actively malicious or just wandering around doing their own thing without fully grasping their effect on humans. In the film the creatures are clearly intelligent and actively malicious, seeming to control the insane into attacking survivors as well as using vocal mimicry to try and trick survivors into looking at them.
  • Anyone Can Die: You know that Malorie and the children will survive, and the rest of the cast provide a plethora of cliches to hint at the fact they're going to bite the big on soon enough.
  • Apocalypse How: A societal level one, to judge by the news reports, as the plague of suicides has swept across the globe, with millions dead.
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  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: The birth of Olympia's baby is contrasted almost immediately with her suicide.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Malorie finds safety at the end with the children, but everyone else died, and it's unclear how many people in the entire world are left.
  • Brown Note: The mere sight of the creatures causes this. It drives most people to suicide. With those who were already mentally unhinged, they became obsessed with it and force others to look.
  • Brown Note Being: The invading creatures cause suicidal insanity in anyone who looks upon them. Those already insane gain bloodshot eyes and are driven to force others to look upon the creatures.
  • Caged Bird Metaphor: The birds in their tiny cage and later box mirror the human characters, who are also confined to structures too small for them.
  • Cartwright Curse: Soon after Malorie and Tom get together, Tom dies.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The premise of unseen monstrosities whose mere appearances causes people to go mad and kill themselves, sounds like something from the mind of Lovecraft himself.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: Becomes this after the kids and mom make it to their destination. The shelter turns out to be a very beautiful school for the blind, with sufficient vine coverage and birds to protect people from the creatures.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The creatures can drive anyone who looks upon them to suicide, but despite seemingly being physical beings, they can't so much as pull off a blindfold or break a normal glass window to get to their prey.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Several character deaths likely could have been averted if characters acted just a bit more cautiously; the most obvious example is letting Gary in the house.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Malorie eventually names her children "Tom" and "Olympia", for people who both died.
  • Death by Irony: Douglas spends most of his screen-time going out of his way to be a selfish and abrasive asshole and be called as such by the other characters, but Gary's betrayal causes him to furiously call Gary one, and he dies in the midst of coming to Malorie and the newborns' rescue instead of escaping while Gary presumed him dead.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Conversely, Douglas constantly warns against letting strangers into the house, opening the door for no reason, opening the freezer to let the guy out, he suggests staying in a supermarket to improve the odds of survival, he suggests not looking at the monitors to see if the "evil" can affect you and yet he has a shorter life than Tom, who has an almost baked-in desire to embrace death; opening doors, inviting people in to the house, and generally doing stupid things.
  • Disability Immunity:
    • Certain individuals do not kill themselves when exposed to the creatures. Instead, they see it as beautiful and are driven to show others what they've seen. Gary claims that these individuals are ones who were already criminally insane. Though, considering the lengths they are willing to go to force other people to look, it's arguable that the creatures reprogrammed them.
    • Blind people cannot be affected by the creatures at all. A school of the blind at the end of the story is thus a safe haven.
  • Downer Beginning: Everyone's killing themselves! The news reports a breakout of mass suicides, but they aren't sure as to why.
  • Dwindling Party: By the end, everyone who took refuge in Greg's house has died except Malorie and the two kids (who weren't even born when everyone came to the house).
  • Eldritch Abomination: Despite Charlie calling them demons, the creatures are closer to this. Simply looking at one will drive you to suicide on the spot. The drawings that Gary made of them certainly look quite bizarre, as well.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Birds can sense when the creatures are around and chirp wildly when they're near. Malorie figures this out when her group have to raid a supermarket and she comes across a trio of parakeets that were left behind. Not shortly after the group have their first encounter with one of the unhinged with the birds reacting to his evil intent. She hangs on to them for the remainder of the movie.
  • Eye Scream: In a sense. People who see the creatures have their irises break apart, giving their eyes a very unsettling look to them as they Go Mad from the Revelation.
  • The Fair Folk: Discussed. Charlie theorizes that the creatures may be the same thing as, among others, the Pooka from Celtic Mythology.note  Certainly, driving people to death or madness for no obvious reason and imitating other people's voices to play tricks are the kinds of thing The Fair Folk supposedly tend to do, so he may be on to something, but it's never directly addressed.
  • Foil: Malorie and Olympia, the two pregnant characters. Olympia mentions that Malorie is much tougher than she is, as she considers herself soft and spoiled. They even look very different; Malorie is thin and brunette, Olympia is blonde and chubby.
  • Forced to Watch: Deranged survivors feel compelled to do this to others. Gary speaks of them physically forcing people's eyes open, and indeed, this is what he does to Cheryl at the window.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • It seems obvious that tragedy will befall most of the cast, especially Tom and Olympia, given Malorie is seen planning a desperate perilous journey with just the two children from the beginning of the movie.
    • Mildly subverted with Felix & Lucy, who did not necessarily die. They merely steal the car and are never seen again.
  • Freudian Excuse: Part of Douglas's resentment towards Malorie and the others is due to the fact that his third wife (by his own admission, the only person he ever loved and who loved him) died saving Malorie.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Seeing the creatures causes humans to kill themselves (or in the case of the deranged, force others who haven't looked into doing so).
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Charlie tackles his deranged coworker to save the rest of the group at the supermarket, killing himself shortly thereafter since he wasn't wearing a blindfold.
    • While he didn't intend to die, Douglas still could have saved himself if he hadn't gone after Gary to protect Malorie and the babies, and yet he did so anyway.
    • Tom fights off the crazy survivors so the children and Malorie can escape. He manages to kill three of them before being wounded, so he removes his blindfold so he'll have a better chance of killing the rest. He's infected by the creatures, but maintains his sense of self long just enough to kill the last crazy survivor before turning the gun on himself.
    • Boy immediately volunteers to be the one to remove his blindfold in order to navigate the rapids, rather than risk his sister having to do it. Malorie, however, refuses to let him make the decision.
  • Heroic Willpower:
    • After Gary forces Olympia to see the creatures while she's still holding her newborn daughter. Malorie begs her to give the baby to her. She manages to resist the creatures long enough to do so before she flings herself out a window.
    • Towards the end of the story, Tom is exposed to the creatures, but musters enough willpower to kill the last of the crazy survivors.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Malorie and her two kids making their way to a rowboat, blindfolded and setting off down the river. The film then jumps back five years to set up what is happening and jumps back and forth between their journey and the events that led up to it.
  • Hypocrite: Not portrayed as harshly as many examples, but Lucy is quick to bring up her police training, but does end up intimate with implied criminal Felix, and steals the car with him.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Both Malorie and Olympia are pregnant in a post-apocalyptic society.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Both of the children survive the film, despite all the adults surrounding them save Malorie dying.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Justified by the creatures' influence. Anyone with a history of mental illness, regardless of how harmless they were before, becomes obsessed with making everyone else look at the creatures. Possibly subverted in that we really only have Gary's word for it that the deranged survivors were insane before they looked at the creatures, and Gary proves himself to be a very Unreliable Expositor. Gary himself shows no symptoms of mental illness, for example, until it is suddenly revealed that he was one of the deranged survivors the whole time. The first character who appears to survive seeing the creatures is Fish Fingers, Charlie's coworker who Charlie describes as "a bit crazy".
  • Insanity Immunity: Played with. Of the people known to have seen the creatures and not commit suicide, they were reportedly already insane to begin with. While they didn't kill themselves, they do seem to uniformly make it their mission in life to make other people see the creatures. It's unknown if this is just the natural conclusion of these types of people, or if the creatures reprogram them.
  • Jerkass: Douglas, who is a total asshole, is aware that he's a total asshole, and doesn't care. He proves to have a Hidden Heart of Gold by the end, though.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Douglas is your usual hard-ass among the survivors in this film, yet he likewise ends up being entirely right about a majority of the situations the survivors run into (including about letting Gary into the house, who ultimately ends up killing everyone save Malorie, Tom and the newborns).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Douglas, who while blindfolded tries and fails to kill Gary with a shotgun to save two women and their newborn children. His hard-ass attitude towards Gary is entirely and tragically vindicated at the end (an earlier hint of his decency is shown during his conversation with Malorie, and when he tells Greg that he's a good man for taking the risk of watching the creatures on video in spite of their personal property dispute).
  • Karma Houdini: Possibly Felix and Lucy. They are never shown receiving any comeuppance for stealing the survivors' only car and basically leaving them stranded, as they are never seen again. The jury is out on whether they got away with it.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Lucy and Tom both survive the opening scene by moving to help a pregnant woman reach shelter, although that same scene features a No Good Deed Goes Unpunished moment when Douglas's wife leave the house to help, sees one of the creatures and in her delusions ends up climbing into a car that's on fire.
  • Lighter and Softer: The ending scene. In the original novel, the safe haven that Malorie and the children found consisted of people who gouged out their own eyes for safety. In the film, the sanctuary was originally a school for the blind, and the residents who are still sighted merely hide as necessary.
  • Logical Weakness: The creatures can drive anyone who looks at them to suicide, but can't actually force anyone to do so against their will. People therefore use blindfolds or cover windows to protect themselves. The safe haven at the end is a former school for blind children. Blind people are most of those living there, though sighted ones join, warned by the birds when the creatures approach.
  • The Lost Lenore: Douglas feels this way about his wife, although he's good at hiding it in stoicism and bitterness.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Douglas repeatedly insists that it's tactically better to be an asshole than to be kind, and Malorie comes to agree with him after a chain of awful events appear to prove him right. By the end of the film, however, she seems to have come back around to agreeing with Tom that living is more than surviving, and apologizes to her children for not being kinder.
  • Mask of Sanity: Gary effectively hides his true nature as one of the crazy survivors until the group at the house is distracted by Malorie and Olympia going into labor, allowing him to catch them off-guard.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: According to Gary, those who were already mentally ill are the people who are not driven to suicide by the creatures' influence; instead, they see the creatures as beautiful and force others to look so they can share the experience. It is never properly confirmed whether he was correct or just lying to prevent anyone suspecting him of being the one with such an inclination.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Those affected by the creatures have their eyes go bloodshot. Crazy survivors have less pronounced changes, but enough that it's easy to tell them apart with a quick look.
  • The Nameless: The enemies are never given any kind of name. They are just referred to as "they/them", "creatures", "things". It is not made explicit whether they are aliens or demons, natural or supernatural.
  • Neverending Terror: There's no quality of life in this world, you're extremely lucky to even get a decent death, and everyone is slaughtered.
  • No Eye in Magic: Greg suggests looking for the creatures through the security system, since the video footage uses thermal imaging and won't provide a detailed image, thereby bypassing whatever mechanism makes people kill themselves. He's unfortunately wrong; Greg sees a creature on the security feed, and still kills himself by smashing his own head in.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A cascading one, as the group letting Olympia into the house eventually led to her letting Gary in, as she remembered just how scary it was being alone outside. Gary kills all but two of the survivors the next day.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Throughout the film, the creatures are never seen clearly, putting the audience in the same boat as the survivors who can never look upon them.
    • Also, behind the scenes, the production team played around with showing a representation of the creatures, and reached this conclusion.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The last shot between Tom and Gary has them both wounded and reaching for a shotgun with it looking like Gary will gain the upper hand as he grasps the handle and set to reach the trigger while Tom is barely managing to grab the other end. After a cut to Malorie and a gunshot ringing out, we see a POV shot of someone coming into the room where she and the newborns are... and cover her up with blanket to protect her from the exposed windows, revealing Tom managed to turn the tables and kill Gary.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Charlie's theory in regards to the creatures posits them as being demons or something like it, showing people their dead relatives or worst fears and causing irresistible suicidal urges as a result. While his theory on their origin is never confirmed, it is shown that the victims are drawn to visions of past regrets, such as the woman who tried to save Malorie on the street seeing a vision of her mother who had been dead for a decade.
  • Properly Paranoid: Douglas was entirely right to be suspicious of Gary.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Seeing the creatures drives most people to kill themselves immediately.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Super Senses: Malorie is shown training the children to navigate by echolocation, so they're capable of getting around blindfolded. Tom likewise demonstrates this when fighting the unhinged people, managing to take down three of them just from hearing where their voices are coming from.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Tom reveals he was a soldier in Iraq, looking after a man and his children on the way back to school. He carries a memento of his time there, and he "hopes they're still going to school."
  • Twofer Token Minority: Greg is the only Asian character, and he's also gay.
  • The Unreveal: The exact appearance and nature of the creatures is never shown. We do get to see some pencil sketches drawn by one of the deranged survivors that might be based on their true appearance, but that's as close as it gets.
  • Villainous Face Hold: Gary grabs Cheryl, forces her eyes open, and holds her face towards the uncovered window so she sees the creature and stabs herself in the neck.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Douglas's wife (see Karmic Jackpot) and a couple who quickly leave the house to try and help their kids after hearing one of them going crazy over the phone.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happened to Felix and Lucy after they steal the survivors' car.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Maybe. As the monsters aren't actually shown but seem to take on the appearance of the victim's worst fear or greatest regret/sorrow, it appears they're pretty similar to the Boggarts. Gary's drawings all have different designs, with some looking like Creepypasta creatures akin to the Slenderman to others looking like something right out of H. P. Lovecraft.


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