Bird Box (3 stars)

Bird Box

Sandra Bullock shows off her survival skills in this derivative dystopian drama

Parenting has never seemed so stressful as in dystopian drama Bird Box; day-to-day childrearing challenges become a mere trifle as we watch Sandra Bullock's survivalist cajole two kids through the apocalypse… whilst wearing a blindfold. Danish director Susanne Bier follows her Emmy-winning work in The Night Manager with a feature that, despite the pluck of its leading lady, can be hokey as hell, particularly in its tendency to borrow from M Night Shyamalan's playbook.

Switching between a world gone psychotic and her family's desperate quest for sanctuary five years later, Bullock's artist Malorie is heavily pregnant when she witnesses the death of her sister Jessica (Sarah Paulson) – just one of a wave of mysterious suicides that sweep the nation. Shellshocked, Malorie finds refuge in a house filled with familiar, likely doomed, faces (John Malkovich, Jacki Weaver, Moonlight's Trevante Rhodes). Those succumbing to the sudden, irrepressible desire to take their own lives do so after experiencing a supernatural phenomenon; to avoid the same fate, those that remain resort to covering their eyes.

If Bird Box – based on the novel by Josh Malerman, with a screenplay from Oscar nominee Eric Heisserer (Arrival) – is practically a twin of Shyamalan's The Happening, it's also the awkward, tonally confused cousin of taut horror A Quiet Place. Despite being frequently derivative, there are moments here which, however much Bullock's tough mudder might convince us otherwise, still feel odd – a double birth chief amongst them. Other scenes – an ingenious use of sat nav, a devilish Tom Hollander – are nail-biting enough, while cinematographer Salvatore Totino (Everest, Spider-Man Homecoming) lends the doom and gloom some welcome polish.

As chaos descends and burnt-out vehicles and bodies pile up in the street, Bullock gives her worried looks a workout and, in doing so, manages to steer this well clear of the car crash it might have been.

Available to watch on Netflix from Fri 21 Dec.

Bird Box

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 2h 4min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Susanne Bier
  • Cast: Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
  • UK release: 21 December 2018

Malorie (Bullock) has to protect her children against a monster that can drive people mad if they see it, so she wears a blindfold. Awkward, tonally confused cousin of A Quiet Place, but it has some ingenious moments and Bullock manages to steer it well clear of being a car crash.