Malorie (Sandra Bullock), a pregnant artist, is shocked when her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson), comes home with news of terrible happenings in Europe and Siberia. People are going crazy and spontaneously committing suicide or killing others, resulting in chaos and mass hysteria everywhere. Soon the mysterious force, or “presence,” attacks the United States and then inhabits their town and terrorizes its citizens. Malorie flees and takes refuge with several others in the home of Douglas (John Malkovich) and Greg (BD Wong). They cover the windows because this unseen “presence” takes possession of them through their eyes. Malorie and Tom (Trevante Rhodes) are drawn to each other.
When food runs low, they make a blindfolded foray to an abandoned supermarket, leaving the pregnant Olympia (Danielle Macdonald) behind. Most of the group wants to stay in the store with its food supply but decide to return to be with those they left behind. Olympia allows a desperate and creepy man named Gary (Tom Hollander) to enter the house, despite the rules Douglas has laid down for their safety. Both Malorie and Olympia go into labor.
Tom, Malorie, and the two children survive and live in the house for five years. Malorie promised to care for Olympia’s daughter just before the young mom died, but Malorie has never given either child a name. Malorie has little hope for the future, so the children are named Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) because she thinks names are superfluous. Malorie blindfolds the children and they escape by boat down the river, headed for what they hope is a safe place.
This dystopian thriller, directed by Susanne Bier, is based on a 2014 novel by Josh Malerman. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer creates genuine fear and terror that dwells within the characters and compels them to commit acts of violence. It’s never really clear why the “presence” shows up in the first place. Still, Bullock is excellent as a mother who teaches the children the rules of survival with steely anguish. Though Bird Box is not a religious film per se, Malorie leads by faith and not by sight. This film prompts a deep conversation exploring the meaning of interior, spiritual, and physical freedom.
Used with permission from St. Anthony Messenger (www.StAnthonyMessenger.org).