Motion Picture Rating: R
Release Date: 2018
Director: Susanne Bier
Runtime: 124 mins.
Adapted From: Bird Box
Malorie lives in an abandoned home with her two young children. They do not look outside—ever. Malorie’s children have never seen the outside world. Malorie hasn’t seen it herself in five years. Something is out there, something that, if seen, will make you go mad. Make you hurt those around you. Make you kill yourself. But Malorie wants more for her children than a life lived in fear, seclusion, and darkness—she is ready to make the journey to the safe place. But in order to do so, she must travel twenty miles downriver in a rowboat, guided only by hearing. It sounds impossible to Malorie, but she knows she must try. But no matter what, they will not open their eyes. They cannot.
Let’s talk horror. I love all things horror, from books and games to movies and TV shows. They may scare the crap out of me (especially zombies… Don’t get me started on zombies…), but I can’t get enough of it. So when I read about the novel Bird Box on a list of scary books to read, I was immediately hooked on the premise. I read it in a day! You can find my review here.
Of course, I immediately watched Netflix’s film version right after closing the book. That’s my favorite activity: reading a book and then watching its adaptation right away, while the book is still fresh in my mind. Also, I’d been hearing a lot of hype about the movie, even from people who had read the book first, so I had high hopes. Horror movies are usually even better than horror books.
…well, not in this case. My first thought upon starting the movie was that I assumed the story would be told linearly, whereas the book actually jumps back and forth between present-day Malorie and past-Malorie. I was surprised to see that the movie kept that aspect of the book, which I enjoyed. There was, however, a lot more backstory added to the movie that the book didn’t delve into. In the book, you find out about Malorie being pregnant, but that’s about it—everything goes to shit and chaos ensues. In the film, they show you a bunch of stuff with Malorie’s apartment, her doctor appointment with her sister (who, by the way, is not Shannon in the movie??? It’s Jessica????), etc. I noticed the movie definitely emphasized Malorie’s relationship with her children. While I do think the book was about Malorie’s journey as a mother, it was much more about the creatures and the horrible situation she’s flung into. The movie’s main point, I think, was Malorie’s slow (and crazy) transition into motherhood.
One thing I thought was strange, though, is how little a part the children played in the journey. In the book, Girl and Boy are critical to the river trip. Malorie depends on their skilled hearing to help her navigate and get to safety. In the movie, the kids sleep most of the time. Malorie even puts them under a little canopy made out of coats and blankets. The movie basically made the children silly and helpless, which I didn’t like. They’re important in the book, but in the movie, they’re basically just background characters.
Oh, and back to the whole name change thing with Malorie’s sister. Shannon becomes Jessica. For what reason? I don’t know. She dies early on, so it doesn’t matter much, I guess. But other people’s names are changed, too. Don becomes Douglas. Cheryl is old in the film, but then they add someone named Lucy to the film who I pictured like Cheryl in the book. Then someone named Charlie is added to the group. I’m just…confused. One of my biggest issues with adaptations is when the characters are changed. They are literally the most integral part to the story. You can change their appearance, you can change the events that happen to them, but why change who they are? I mean, Douglas really doesn’t act like Don, so I feel like he’s a new character. The whole Cheryl/Lucy thing is confusing. Felix is in both the book and the movie, but he’s great in the book and awful in the movie. And who is Charlie?? It was very confusing for someone who has read the book. It was like a totally new story, and I wasn’t a fan.
I understand why the movie is sped up. I understand why certain events are changed, like how instead of wolves attacking Malorie, Boy falls into the water, etc. I get that there’s more action rather than strategic planning that’s featured in the book. But why change the characters? And don’t get me started on Malorie… She is way more outspoken in the movie than in the book. Even so, she was still the most consistent character out of them all.
My overall thought is this: same premise, but almost like an entirely separate story than the book. The characters are not the same, and most of the events are different, too. The book reminded me of A Quiet Place, but the movie… It just reminded me of The Movie That Shall Not Be Named, but that I will name for the purpose of this blog post: The Happening.
Worst movie ever. And Bird Box totally took ideas from it with the whole rustling leaves/trees indicating the creatures are near. I don’t know…just seemed a little too cheesy for me.
I feel like if I hadn’t read the book, I may have had lower expectations and enjoyed the movie. It’s not a bad movie, just a bad adaptation, in my opinion. Don’t change the characters………that’s all I ask…..
What do you all think? Did you like the film? And did you read the book? Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to see if anyone else was as disappointed as I was amid all the hype.