Nothing like the holidays for snuggling under a blanket and watching an interactive episode of your favorite bleak, tech-obsessed TV show. It's almost as if Netflix knows we have more time to spend in front of the screen the last week of the year. That's probably why it released on Dec. 21.
Sandra Bullock stars in this postapocalyptic thriller directed by Academy Award-winning Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (In a Better World) and based on the novel of the same name by Josh Malerman. More than 45 million Netflix accounts streamed Bird Box over the first seven days after its release. That's the best first week for a Netflix film, according to a tweet by the service.
I was one of the millions who watched. Unlike some film critics, I don't think Bird Box was written by an algorithm. Mainly because it looks like another 2018 postapocalyptic thriller with horror notes: A Quiet Place. And nobody accused the star, co-writer and director of that film, John Krasinski, of having crafted his movie formulaically to reach the maximum audience.
I'm not saying Bird Box copies others have noticed as well, they share a number of similarities. Here are the main ones. Yes, there are spoilers ahead.. It's just that, as
- You could say A Quiet Place is like Bird Box, but with people who can't talk or make noise. And Bird Box is like A Quiet Place, but with people who can't look at certain things. The premise for both is pretty much the same: Random creatures attack Earth, causing humans to die off and almost become extinct. The only way to avoid said creatures in A Quiet Place is to stay quiet and unheard by them. The only way to avoid them in Bird Box is to not look at them.
- Motherhood and its symbolism play a huge role. Bullock's character in Bird Box and Emily Blunt's in A Quiet Place are both pregnant (at least at some point during the movies). Both stories relay how hard and painful labor can be without a reliable medical system and epidurals. They also reflect on how crazy it is to bring children into a cruel and uncertain world. And they use apocalyptic scenarios as a metaphor to show how scary parenthood can be.
- The kids in these movies really are disciplined in an especially tough way. Just because keeping quiet or keeping on a blindfold isn't an option but a necessity to remain alive. That said, there's always a moment or two in which a little one decides to go against the rules set by a grown-up.
- Watching either movie will remind you to prioritize stocking that eternally neglected emergency kit. I'm not talking about a few cans of beans, some comfortable clothes, a thermal blanket and a flashlight. I'm talking drugs, a weather radio and tools you actually can use. Yes, we all know that in case of a zombie apocalypse the best thing you can do is move in to a well-stocked supermarket (if you can make it there safely, that is). Our guys in A Quiet Place and Bird Box opt instead for rustic houses with lots of space. I guess it's a squatters market.
- The creatures are insatiable and their motivations immaterial. It doesn't really matter where they come from or why they're so depraved. It doesn't even matter what they are. This is not Arrival. Or even War of the Worlds. Bird Box and A Quiet Place are stories about how humans can adapt and try to survive in the worst possible scenarios.
- The apocalypse sure is tough, but that doesn't mean hair and makeup has to look bleak. That's why Bullock's and Blunt's skin looks simply stunning. And each heroine's perfectly colored mane is long but doesn't look like it needs to be cut. Even Krasinski's lumbersexual beard couldn't be more polished.
- There's always time for intimacy amid the madness. Like the sequence where Krasinski and Blunt dance to Neil Young's Harvest Moon, connected by a pair of EarPods. Or the scene in which Trevante Rhodes' character enjoys Bullock in a sexy chemise that definitely wouldn't make any Top 10 list for must-have survivalist garments.
- Having a certain type of disability can be an advantage. In A Quiet Place the whole family is used to communicating via sign language because of the deaf daughter. Something that will play to their benefit. Similarly, it makes sense that blind people are among the survivors in Bird Box.
- The sequel to A Quiet Place is already official, and though there's no word from Netflix on a Bird Box 2 yet, one can only hope. But I don't think there's much chance of seeing Krasinski or Rhodes in the sequels, just because fathers and father figures don't fare too well in these stories.
Did I miss any similarity between the two movies? Let us know in the comments.
Also, have you considered the #AQuietPlaceChallenge? It's basically moving in complete silence and keeping your mouth shut, while trying to never bother your co-workers, friends or family members again. It sure feels. Shhhhhh!
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