Is Netflix’s New Film “Bird Box” Pro-Life Propaganda?

BIG SPOILER ALERT!  

 

If you aren’t living under a rock and even if you are, you have seen people raving about “Bird Box.”

 

After hearing that this was the next, “Inception,” I decided to see it for myself. I was less than impressed. I will say that it is full of suspense. I always look for psychological thrillers and horror films that keep me on the edge of my seat. “Bird Box” was no exception.

 

However, I found several issues with the plot. The character development was unimpressive, the resolution was disappointing, and the undertone had an uncomfortably pro-life message. 

 

From the beginning of the movie, Sandra Bullock’s character is a noticeably unattached pregnant woman named Malorie. She is isolated and living in her apartment as an artist. Her sister, Jessica, takes her to an appointment for her ultrasound. Still she seems unhappy and uninterested in her prospective motherhood. On the way in the sister is laughing and smiling on the phone, in the background another woman is doing the same. During the appointment the doctor notices Malorie’s distance and flat affect. She offers her information on adoption.

 

Immediately following, the sisters walk through the hallway and see the woman on the phone from the previous scene committing suicide by slamming her head through the glass window. It is apparent here, that the “monster,” has made its way to the hospital.

 

As they rush away Jessica’s eyes change, symbolizing she is impacted by the monster outside. When she crashes, Malorie barely escapes and rushes indoors. The opening of the film sets the tone for the world Malorie will have to navigate and highlights her personality.  

 

The story is presented through a series of flashbacks and resumes in the present where Sandra is traveling blindfolded with two children. I thought this perspective was unique and brought a lot to the film. I kept waiting for more information, but alas there are no scenes showing what caused the main character to isolate herself from others. She briefly mentions a strained family relationship, which I was interested in. The lack of character development is disappointing. It would increase my curiosity if there was more explanation of her personality and lifestyle choices.  

 

During her time in this new world she meets Tom who opens her up to intimacy in a new way. While living with him and others she delivers her child. Olympia, a woman living with them also delivers a baby before being exposed to the outside and killing herself. Tom and Malorie continue to trek on with the children for what is shown as a five-year period. This was my favorite bit in the movie.

 

Tom’s interactions with the kids, referred to only as Girl and Boy, were settling. They provide the children with an emotionally available secure attachment despite Malorie’s emotional vacancy. However, he ultimately sacrifices himself for their safety. Don’t kill off Tom, come on Netflix!  

 

The ending can be described as nothing more than anticlimactic. They end up in a school for the blind where the doctor returns. This moment ties into the stories theme of hope and connection as the mother finally names her children. It is apparent to me that her acceptance of motherhood and love for them comes through a bond built on trauma. In contrast to her original outlook, she is connected to others. This desirable outcome is brought on through trauma and pressure from others to take on a role and responsibility she was neither ready for or desiring.  

 

This is my main issue with the movie. It is heartbreaking to imagine any mother taking five years to connect to her children. Even then, there connection is only through trauma.  

 

It isn’t until the final scene that the mother has accepted them enough to even name them. This can be viewed as a self-protective coping mechanism to prevent attaching to a child she may lose. Though, I felt she didn’t want to be a mother from the beginning. The boy is named Tom, after Malorie’s love interest and the children’s father figure in the movie. The girl is named Olympia, after her birth mother who gave her to Malorie seconds before committing suicide.

 

Both Tom and Olympia pushed Malorie to connect to the children when she was resistant, so I feel the names were an interesting choice. The pressure to take on responsibility of children is pushed onto Sandra Bullock’s character unwillingly. The message of hope is too closely tied into the idea of only becoming whole through motherhood for my own comfort.

 

The film is engaging and thought-provoking, but lacks expansion and key character development. I would have enjoyed the movie much more, and felt it had a less conservative pro-life message if we understood why Malorie was so painfully independent.

 

Yes, maybe I psychoanalyzed all the characters and the plot… I just want dynamic characters. Is that too much to ask for, Netflix?