By: Marco Ovies, SFU Student
At first glance, Netflix’s new original movie Bird Box may seem like your cookie-cutter suspense film, joining A Quiet Place and Don’t Breathe. With flat characters that never venture past their stereotypes, negative depictions of mental health, and an unsatisfying ending that gives no real resolution to the problem at hand, there is not much going for this movie — but Bird Box is still worth checking out.
On the surface, there is not much to Bird Box. The premise is that monsters end up taking over the world, and if you look at them, you end up hearing voices and committing suicide. So to stop themselves from looking at the creatures, all characters wear blindfolds — that is, everyone except the mentally ill. It’s implied in the film that because these people are mentally ill, it makes them immune to committing suicide even after seeing the monsters. These mentally ill people are portrayed as crazy and try to convince others to look at the monsters. They are then deemed as crazy and dangerous beings who threaten the lives of everyone else who has survived this incident. Admittedly, this seems like an overgeneralization and negative stereotype of mentally ill people, depicting them as wildly dangerous. It is very easy to make a quick judgement and accept this negative portrayal of mentally ill people, but there is a deeper meaning hidden below the surface.
The monsters are a physical representation of suicide and mental illness. The reason why characters cannot see them is because mental illness has no face and can affect anyone — it’s a silent killer that no one can see coming. Surviving characters in the film are generally shocked when their friends and family commit suicide, saying that they did not see it coming, and that is exactly what anyone would hear in the news from those close to a suicide victim.
The “mentally ill” want to convince others to see the monsters because this is what they have faced every day. They are used to coping with this feeling, and they want others to see exactly what they go through. These people are able to survive because they have been dealing with these monsters forever.
There is definitely still room for improvement for this film. The characters of this story never go through any real development (aside from Sandra Bullock’s character who even then does not grow throughout the story). The ending of the movie really falls flat as well. There is a great buildup which really had me at the edge of my seat, and then it was all over so suddenly. Everything resolved too quickly and there was no explanation as to how things were all of a sudden okay. There could have easily been another half-an-hour to forty-five minutes of this movie to tie everything together.
Overall, Bird Box does have its pitfalls and overgeneralization on the mentally ill, but I still believe you can get some good out of it.