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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bird Box is a violent, suspense-filled, often-gory end-of-the-world movie about a woman (Sandra Bullock) and two children who are trying to survive a presence that causes anyone who looks directly at it to commit suicide in gruesome ways. While the "presence" is never seen, its existence results in many gory, blood-soaked sequences. There are shootings, stabbings, hideous accidents, zombie-like humans in attack mode, fiery explosions, and more. Plus, the main characters are in dire peril as they undertake a long, harrowing ride down a river -- while blindfolded. You can also expect frequent swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more. A nude couple is briefly glimpsed having sex, and a loving couple kisses and embraces. Characters drink, one very much to excess. Based on a novel by Josh Malerman, this thriller/horror film isn't for kids.
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What's the story?
Painter Malorie (Sandra Bullock), mid-pregnancy and unsure about becoming a mother, is thrust into a global nightmare in BIRD BOX. A deadly force threatens the planet. Unseen but lethal -- anyone who looks in its direction is impelled to commit suicide by any means -- the evil presence is destroying the population. Chaos prevails. Blindfolds, as protection, take center stage. Finding interim refuge in a house inhabited by other desperate people, Malorie gives birth. Her housemates include: Douglas (John Malkovich, an alcoholic prophet of doom; Cheryl (Jackie Weaver), a resilient senior; an unsophisticated Olympia (Danielle Macdonald); and Tom (Trevante Rhodes), who may be the one person Malorie can count on. Director Susanne Bier intercuts the cataclysmic events to which one after another of the principals fall victim, with scenes five years in the future when Malorie and two children, Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) race down a river in a final, valiant attempt to survive.
Is it any good?
Sandra Bullock, sympathetic and a force of nature here, in combination with other solid performances, terrific direction, and abundant blindfolds, makes a conventional tale suspenseful and effective. Though the filmmakers have attempted to provide some degree of optimism by the end of Bird Box, the five years during which nothing has been able to stem the onslaught of the terror isn't very reassuring. Suspension of disbelief is a necessity, as is not looking too closely at some of the plot elements; however, the unceasing tension and rooting interest for the heroic folks makes it a thrilling ride -- only for mature teens and grown-ups.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Bird Box. The actual monster/creature/presence is never seen in this movie. How did the filmmakers let you know it was near? Why was it as scary, or even scarier, than seeing a visual image? What is the impact of media violence on kids?
What's the difference between an "end-of-the-world" movie and a "dystopian" movie? Why do you think both genres appeal to audiences, especially teens? What are your favorites?
- In theaters: December 13, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2018
- Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
- Director: Susanne Bier
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, bloody images, language, and brief sexuality
- Last updated: September 11, 2020
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