Film review: Bird Box ratchets up the tension but feels a little repetitive

A scene from the thriller Bird Box. Picture: NETFLIX/OUTNOW

A scene from the thriller Bird Box. Picture: NETFLIX/OUTNOW - Credit: NETFLIX/OUTNOW

Instead of making its debut at the cinema, new film Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock, is streaming via Netflix. See our review.

It is tempting to sum up Susanne Bier’s post-apocalyptic thriller as A Quiet Place without sight rather than without sound. Although her film shares similarities with John Krasinski’s superior work, it is nevertheless a tense if rather flawed entry in the genre.

Adapted from Josh Malerman’s novel, we see Sandra Bullock’s expectant mother Malorie barricade herself inside a house with a group of strangers to escape an antagonistic force that, once seen, compels its victims to commit suicide. Five years on, she attempts to transport her children to safety.

Like A Quiet Place and the relentlessly bleak The Mist, much of the film’s terror comes not from the monstrous beings outside but rather from the altogether more human ones inside, as fear and distrust become entrenched.

Bier handles these mounting tensions effectively, as John Malkovich’s paranoid Douglas clashes with the more level-headed members of the group. However, these confrontations are all terribly familiar – betrayals are perpetrated by whom you expect, the casualties predictable and Tom Hollander’s sinister newcomer is, unsurprisingly, not what he seems.

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While this is fine, at over two hours, this first timeline taking up most of it, the whole thing feels a little repetitive. Thankfully, Bier regularly cuts to Malorie’s journey five years later, masterfully ratcheting up the tension as she and her children approach a supposed safe haven. When the film reaches its end, albeit sentimental, one can’t help but feel satisfied at the journey on which Bier has taken us.

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