“The very fact that a species is near extinction implies that its final demise will have negligible impact”
For all of its success, Bird Box has perhaps only two novelties wrapped in the trappings of the redundancies of I Am Legend and The Happening, and both are big.
The first has to be the explicit pro-life messaging juxtaposed with the reluctance of the mother (Sandra Bullock), which becomes the quintessential final scene of emotional realization for this woman, once a prime candidate for an abortion in her reclusiveness and refusal to even acknowledge or name the children, becomes the patron saint of motherhood through her protective evolution and realization of love. The fact the critics barely gave this film a “fresh” review probably has a lot to do with this rampant theme that begins in the clinic, where the gynecologist speaks truth into the inevitable life being created and remarkably offers Bullock only the option for adoption, reminiscent of the crisis pregnancy centers that have fought a battle in refusing to give mothers the information for getting an abortion.
The second novelty, which ties into the first, is the value placed on the “disabled” (i.e. blind) citizens in a time of crisis. Bird Box, written by Eric Heisserer — who also wrote Arrival — demonstrates, in the end, a community led by the blind Rick (Pruitt Taylor Vince), an affront to our culture of death where the disabled unborn is treated like a burden that needs to be delivered into the waste basket instead of cared for like an equal citizen. We have here the value of those society deems unfit in a time where the human fabric is put on display and found wanting.
This combination makes the tantalizing, although often redundant dystopia film worth watching even if its script takes the usual cowards path out by failing to create a complete film invoking questions and answers. The film itself is a better version of A Quiet Place, except where it makes some sense that the noise could be a factor for survival, it made no sense why the full blown blindness was even necessary when the creatures were clearly never omnipresent. Certainly a quick peak or at least looking down could be accomplished and yet the entire film is hopelessly forced to unfold in the dark.
Leaving the confines of safety without a back story was the missing piece of a genuinely decent suspense thriller and, in its absence, we are left with little more than a customary Netflix Original. Where Arrival was richly textured with the creative drive of someone who seems genuinely interested in an academic presentation, Bird Box just felt like a project to be finished.