Bird Box Explanation – The theories behind Monsters and Insane People
Bird Box has been one of the most talked films on Netflix since its release. We have already become acknowledged with Netflix’s feature of trending on social media asking YouTube to implement the blanket ban. The reason behind this band is Sandra Bullock and her blindfolding, which has been subjected to a lot of ridicule by the netizens. However, considering all the things Bird Box has been one of the most watched movies on this streaming platform, while proving the popularity.
Bird Box has been made with the story based on the novel with the same name, written by Josh Malerman back in 2014. The movie is then helmed by Susanne Bier, the prestigious Academy Award winner. Her works include After the Wedding, In a Better World and the TV Series titled as The Night Manager. Bier is however notorious for not conforming to the traditional methods and standards of visual acuity and editing. Bird Box, as a movie, carries the signature Bier style as it unravels the story. This post-apocalyptic drama-thriller is rooted deeply in the ancient mythology while revolving around the concept of the invisible monsters.
The monsters in this movie are responsible for prompting suicides of the spectators. The basic concept of the movie is that if you see the monsters, you will die. Ringing the bell? If they hear you, you will die has been used in one of the most prominent movies of the year, “A Quiet Place”. Bird Box is yet another part of these experimental movies that are released in 2018. It shares the same fashion with its analogical partner while giving you a premise of a unique cinema viewing experience. But, the thing that it has failed is to qualify in the litmus test.
Bird Box, as a film is deliberately long and it has many threads that come across the formulaic timeline while revisiting the same plot. There are many backs and forth in the movie which will make you feel that you are taken far away from the present day timeline. While the introduction of the movie promises you a lot, there are only a handful of scenes that can immerse you in the film. Especially for the people who have not read the book, the river charge appears as an unfamiliar element used just to engage you in the film. There are many other elements that are left for ambiguity and interpretation in the film which need a major explanation. Right from the plot to the undertones, the monsters and the ending; this film has many metaphors that are to be further explained.
Bird Box Plot:
Bird Box starts on a different note where we witness a woman, identified as Malorie. This woman is shown showing various instructions to a girl and a boy. The instructions given by the woman are simple to interpret but are extremely difficult to follow, “Don’t open the eyes”. These orders passed by the woman are rattling and uncompromising. The trio is then shown with a blindfold as they start their river voyage. The narrative then starts jumping in the time where we will be taken five years back to the normal city. Malorie was a pregnant woman then who stays with Jessica, her sister in the apartment. While visiting the hospital for a pregnancy checkup with the sister, both of them hear the violence and the eruption that keeps escalating. As they get back to the car, they confront a woman who is banging the head against a glass window pane in order to kill herself.
This odd behaviour shocks the people surrounding as they move to safe place. Jessica drives Malorie through the ocean of panicking people and stranded cars while she sees something ahead of her. Now, she loses her control and the cars tumbles over. As Malorie starts recovering, Jessica jumps infront of a truck and kills herself. Malorie who is shown suffering in the car comes out of the car and deliriously wanders in the crowd. Tom, a middle aged man rescues her as she keeps wandering and takes her to the survivor camp. The survivor camp is located in the house of Douglas, a wealthy and cantankerous lawyer who doesn’t want any new additions to the house. After convincing him, the group blindfolds all the windows in the house revealing the existence of the monsters.
The monsters are some kind of supernatural creatures while inciting the people who have seen them to kill themselves. They keep waiting for days outside the house with the survivors inside. During their time in the house, the survivors get close each other and form bonds with the occupants. Olympia, one of the residents then allows a suspicious man in the house, whose name is Gary. Beyond the protests, the group decides to keep him in the house. Olympia and Malorie, who are pregnant vows to protect the kids in case of adversities given the situations. As the members keep living, their number increase. Because of the increase in the population, the food starts diminishing. In order to meet the food demand, Tom, Charlie, Malorie, Lucky and Douglas take a car while covering the sides from the local market. When the group is threatened in the market after being surrounded by the monsters, Charlie makes a sacrifice to save others. During this process, all the survivors get killed except Tom, Malorie and the infants.
The reason behind this killing is Gary, who gets revealed as a monster. The timeline then comes to the present day, after five years, when the kids are grown up. Malorie and Tom have raised the kids together while surviving and ravaging in the houses. During their time in different houses, they receive various transmissions from a community. The call, however, turns out to be a trap set by someone like Gary, who is also an infected human. In the chaos, Tom decides to sacrifice himself to save the kids and their mother. The climax takes us to the today world where Malorie receives a safe transmission from a community. While she suspects it in the start, she decides to make a run in them. After overcoming the obstacles, Malorie decides to reach the house while discovering a colony full of survivors only to realize that they are blind people.
Bird Box Monsters:
There has been so much of deliberation and interpretation on the concept of the monsters because they succeeded in grabbing the attention of the people. The monsters have received a lot of acclaim both from the critics and the audience. The film did not lay down a definition for them just like the book which is why it has disappointed the people who wanted to know what they are actually. The director has used the clever yet uninteresting narrative to keep them on the other side of the camera without revealing their appearance. We are dire spectators who only witness the reactions of people who are seeing them. The monsters are shown to take the form of something that people usually fear and then they go on tapping the bad memory of them. Towards the end of the film, we feel that there is a possibility of them appearing on the screen but I guess the director has edited out. Even in the episode of Malorie’s nightmare, their appearance seems mandatory but it also got edited out.
In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, Sandra Bullock revealed that the monsters looked like “a green man with a horrific baby face”. She adds, “It was snake-like, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to see it when it first happens. Just bring it into the room. We’ll shoot the scene.’ I turn, and he’s like this [growling at me.] It’s making me laugh. It was just a long fat baby.” The scene is now in the safe hands of Saturday Night Live.
The concept of monsters is not new when you think through it. It is pretty much similar to the ‘Boggart’ that has been introduced in Harry Potter or what we have seen in ‘It’. They share the same characteristics as Pennywise but however these monsters belong to an entirely different pedigree. They are inclined towards the AI system, sharing similarity with HAL from the infamous ‘A 2001 Space Odyssey’ but without any form. Another beautiful comparison of the monster is the demon from the film, ‘It Follows’. HP Lovecraft, being the father of modern horror says that this creation is interesting and is very similar to his work, ‘Elder things’. He has described that the monsters which are terribly starfish has the ability to drive a person mad just by looking at them. He also says that this is the core idea which has established the invention of these monsters.
The idea that the film doesn’t give us any explanations about the monsters is not entirely true. Remember the movie ‘Get Out’ and the TSA by Rod Williams? Well, he makes a significant brief about the appearance in the film as Charlie. When the survivors meet Charlie for the first time, he apprises people for this research. He takes the names of various mythological figures and says that they are responsible for culminating the monsters against people. He also defines them as entities which take the shape of the great loss, deep sadness and worst fears. Rewinding back to the past, when Jessica sees the monsters for the first time while coming back from the hospital, she feels both terror and astonishment. Similar is the case of Lydia, wife of Douglas who gets into a burning car while calling her own mom. Olympia, who utters her final words before dying says that the monsters are not so bad. Therefore, in each of the cases, all the victims experience their fears, loss respectively. The origin, however, can be traced back to the folklore in the world.
- Aka Manah: According to the Zoroastrian legends, Aka Manah is a menace looking creature which is considered as a big evil. This evil spirit has rumors of appearing in the olden religious texts as Akman or Akoman. It is indeed interesting because of all the side effects that it creates. People believe that Akman has been set to people by Ahirman in order to seduce and ruin Zoroaster from his holiness. Aka Manah seduces the humans and invokes the deepest desires inside them. With the psychology, the worst thing that can happen to a human through Aka Manah is losing a live. Aka Manah is also referred as the state of the mind that can cause deceitful action. This entity shares similarities with the monsters who prompt the people to kill themselves and take the lives.
- Huli Jing: Moving on is Charlie next reference about Huli Jung. Huli Jung is a nine tail fox, that we also see in the infamous Manga-Anime Naruto. It has a history of being called as the most hateful demon which has the sole intention of destroying the humans. As a spirit, it can take a good or the bad human form based on the situation. In the Anime, the human who holds the nine tail fox is referred as Jinchuriki. With respect to the context of this film, they can be taken as extremely bad beings. The foxes also retain certain magical powers which enable them to wield magic as per the whim to influence others. The monsters don’t sound like humans, which is affirmed but a lot of scenes in the movies. Charlie then goes on naming the mythical creatures from various religions in the world. The monsters appear like an amalgamation of the creativity and the creatures of this writing team.
Sane and Insane:
One of the major mysteries that the movie throws at you is to define the thin line between sanity and insanity. The movie shows that the mental patients and the blind patients do not get affected in its course. There are many people like Gary who are not getting affected when they have seen the monsters, and these patients are apparently the sane people. Their eyes will not turn gray after the dilation and they don’t kill themselves as well. The main question that revolves round the movie is what is that which is driving the people to kill themselves as they see the monsters? Why are they not surviving soon after? The explanation given by Gary can throw a hint or two in this process. If you observe the plot carefully, we can see that the premise in which he enters the house is narrated with utmost sincerity. According to him, he is escaping from patients who have escaped from a mental facility who actually houses the insane people. The lines he use includes phrases like “Greatest loss, Worst fears and Deepest sadness” within him. Assuming it to be true, the insane have experienced all these elements already in their lives and they don’t have any other fear. The demons that they see in the monsters also validate to higher levels of craziness, making them happy. The insane people see the monsters and equalize their sanity while leveling the playing field. The insane people look up to monsters as their salvation while saving them from being retarded.
Bird Box – The Ending:
Bird Box ends on a very predictable note. From the starting of the film to the ending, Malorie along with the kids set the right place. The voyage of the river starts ending successfully. It is also expected that the three people would go to a safe people. Bird Box ends with three of them being in the sanctuary built for the blind people. Towards the end, we see that they encounter a flourishing community with Malorie meeting the doctor who is shown at the starting of the film. The film also ends with two significant things, the first is when Malorie names the kids and the second is when she sets the birds free. Through the movie, Malorie calls both the kids just by the gender (one is her kid and the other, Olivia’s). She did not want to personalize them because of the wilderness in which they are living. The christening of them towards the last is probably Bier’s indication of hope.
Malorie also sees the family future when they finally reach the sanctuary. To her, this sanctuary is nothing lesser than a heaven. It includes her hope for life as the happiness gets rekindled with the noise of children playing while the birds are chirping just like any other day. She refers the boy as Tom, her fallen support and the girl as Olympia, probably after her biological mom. During the film, it is evident that her trust for the girl and the love she showers towards her, seem to be tested. During the voyage, she tells the child that one of them have to help her in steering the boat. When the boy says that he would do it, Malorie refuses and chooses the Girl to do it. This is when it is realized that she loves both the children but is a little biased towards one. The birds that she releases in the climax stand as the symbols of safety. When she gets them first in the super market, she realizes that the have the ability to sense the danger. They also help her in the entire journey making Malorie find a safe environment at the camp.
The reason why Malorie has released is because they let them be. The ending of the movie is entirely different from the book, making it intense and gruesome. The climax affirms the faith through the essentials of the life through security, hope and love. Bird Box has a formulaic screenplay making it an engaging watch. It is a film that is made for various generations especially for those people who grew up watching the streaming services and the social media videos. However, it is the blitzkrieg focus that the film has had due to Sandra Bullock made me watch the film as well. I realized that it is the same reason why millions of people have watched it as well.
Will this norm keep going? Will the bigger streaming channels keep making more films with the potentiality to go viral like Bird Box? As a ardent fan of good films, I am worried.