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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019 11 months ago

'Bird Box' is a thrilling psychological tale with an unexpected, ironic ending

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Director Susanne Bier took a risk with her new Netflix film, but it paid off.

"Bird Box" is a film about deadly invisible monsters. It's also a psychological thriller that begs us to examine what is most important in life.

In the opening sequence, a woman is being brutally honest while instructing two small children to never remove their blindfolds. She adamantly insists that if they do, they will die.

Suddenly, the film flashes back five years when that same woman, Malorie (Sandra Bullock), is having a conversation with her sister (Sarah Paulson). Malorie's conflicting views about her pregnancy have taken center stage as the world is about to implode. It seems that unexplained mass suicides, which began in Romania, are spreading globally. 

As Malorie and her sister are driving in the car, they witness people killing themselves in horrific ways. Her sister is at the wheel when a strange look appears on her face and seconds later she purposely crashes their vehicle. Malorie survives.

Soon after she has found refuge in a house inhabited by survivors (Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich and Jacki Weaver) of the apocalyptic event. They have discovered that a malevolent force causes madness in everyone who sees it. But there's a catch. Some of those who saw it survive and become undetectable cult-like monsters out for blood. 

The film darts back and forth time-wise as Malorie and the two children desperately try to locate a rumored safe place down a vast river. And all the while they must remain blindfolded. Their greatest means of defense is taking a box of live birds with them who can surprisingly detect the monster's presence.

Director Susanne Bier ("The Night Manager") has taken on quite a task. When your main character is blindfolded during most of the important scenes, it has to be an immense challenge to keep your audience on board. But she manages to do so through the skillful eye of her camera. And Bier admits, "I wouldn't have done it if Sandra Bullock hadn't played Malorie."

Bullock's performance is off the charts. She excels at being protective, brash and bold. Her multi-layered portrayal of a woman who evolves from a person unable to connect into a hero, is exciting to witness. It will take you off guard.

At times, "Bird Box" is a scenic refuge from madness. At others, it's just downright terrifying. There's an unexpected, ironic twist at the film's conclusion. And it's a hopeful one. Sorry, no spoilers. See it.

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