They say that a good thriller takes more hours of sleep than the purest horror. It is good, James Wan is there to prove that the maxim is true, building, alongside good disciples, breathtaking narratives that leave us glued to the screen from beginning to end. Even M. Night Shyamalan, in its late glory days, manages to transform the genre into something never seen before, devising plots that escape conventionalism and find a magnificent resolution – with some exceptions, of course. Soon, when Susanne Bier announced that he would venture into this medium with an adaptation of the thriller ‘Bird Box’ (‘birdbox’in the original)signed by josh malerman, most fans who had already become familiar with the author’s distorted cosmos were quite excited. After all, the novel received a great reception from critics and carried with it an incredible mix of diverse literary strands.
However, Bier, although she took home an Oscar for her work as a screenwriter, in addition to being nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy, does not seem to be in good standing within the film industry. His previous cinematographic projects traced a decreasing line of quality, and here I quote the relatively interesting ‘Everything We’ve Lost’starring Halle Berryand the bad ‘Serena’, an empty retelling of the eponymous book that has fallen into oblivion. In her attempt at redemption, the filmmaker falls into the same ruin by promising more than she delivers: through lazy and formulaic work, few things are saved from yet another failure ordered by the company. Netflixin addition to dishonoring a work as delicate as the one signed by Malerman.
The narrative is based on a mixture of fantastic fiction, sci-fi and suspense – or at least an attempt to mix the three. In a post-apocalyptic scenario, which is already presented to us in a brief prologue, the protagonist Malorie (Sandra Bullock), an artist who is awaiting the arrival of her first child, witnesses a series of terrible suicides, motivated by something incomprehensible and invisible. Things definitely get out of hand when her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson), on the way back to her house, she is attacked by the cruel force and throws her in front of a truck, leaving her bewildered and alone until she is rescued by a man, who manages to shelter her in the nearest house.
If we analyze the scope to which we are presented right away, it is very easy to draw parallels with two works that are totally different from each other: ‘The fog’in Stephen KingIt is ‘End of Times’, by Shyamalan. Even though that one had an interesting adaptation for the big screen in 2004, it is true to say that it represents a sad stain on the filmmaker’s career – and seems to have been the most appropriate, in Bier’s view, turning his film into a total disaster. Mystical and occult forces prey on the most unsuspecting – that is, those who refuse to stay in the shadows and face the outside world. To do so, Malorie and her companions create a kind of fortification, sealed by newspaper and locked windows, preventing the supposed creatures from reaching it.
However, it seems that the narrative stagnates at this point. Even with an interesting sequence in which Bullock and Paulson deviate from the collective hysteria and eventually find the beginning of their ruins, Bier’s direction becomes lifeless, opting for something within the standards rather than a simple hint of originality – and even the classic shot-reverse shot doesn’t work as accurately as it should. the script of Eric Heissererresponsible for introducing us to the masterpiece ‘The arrival’ a year earlier does not help at all in any way. On the contrary, the sad dialogues drain attempts to make the atmosphere tense and distressing, seeming to force the actors to regurgitate the words.
In any case, Bullock manages to stay in shape until the end of the second act, in which he once again proves that he creates magic even with the most mediocre roles. However, she can’t stand to keep herself a level above what is given to her, giving in to meaningless lines, poorly formulated explanations and a shameful performance. At one point, Malorie, having her child and caring for Olympia’s unnamed newborn (Danielle Macdonald), also driven to suicide, finds a space to create a “family” alongside one of the only survivors of a tragic massacre, Tom (Trevante Rhodes). As she escapes, leaving her romantic partner behind, she finds herself on a perilous journey across a raging river to save the children and try to save herself. Such sequences are built with such a lack of care that it is painful to hear her repeat empty and expired words in the metaphors themselves.
Bier not only fails in its own function, it destroys any deeper symbologies that the novel brought a few years ago. Themes such as depression and confidence are dressed up with a bitter suspense, which in fact does not even come to fruition, remaining in an excessive and tiring melodrama. Even the original title is forgotten; of course, Malorie carries a box of birds with her, releasing them as soon as they reach the shelter. And what is that really supposed to represent? That she and the children are finally safe and can grow up in peace in a microcosm protected from creatures? Because if this is the big “moral lesson”, I’m sorry to tell you that it didn’t work very well.
‘bird box’ it may not be pretentious, unlike so many other productions in the genre – but it doesn’t add anything to the scope of the suspense or to anything, in general. In addition to a troubled cinematic technique and a laughable script, not even Bullock is saved from being swallowed by this frustrating and disappointing waste of time.
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