Bird Box – An Exercise in Why a Severely Flawed Movie Captivates a Country

220px-bird_box_(film)For the first time ever, the cinematic buzz over the holiday season was not about a blockbuster that came out in theaters, but about Netflix original Bird Box. America’s top streaming service boasted that the film garnered 45 million viewers within a week of its December 21, 2018 release date.

If for no other reason, Bird Box is significant for that – another obvious sign that this generation has changed the way it primarily consumes content, entertainment or otherwise.

But make no mistake. There is some intrigue surrounding the significance of the material itself. Anything that captures the attention of 50 million people must necessarily be tapping into something that feels common and important to the human experience.

The story is that of Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock), a mother, who is trying to bring two children to safety in a post-apocalyptic world. The movie flashes back and forth between the days at the outset of the cataclysmic event – the arrival of a mysterious force that is driving most of humanity around the world to suicide – and the “present day” – which consists of Malorie paddling the two children she’s responsible for down a river to attempt to reach safety. The catch, the reason for the blindfold, and subsequently the frontrunner for best meme fodder of 2019, is that the force cannot actually affect you so long as you don’t look at it.

The movie did not receive tremendous reviews, netting only a 51 Metascore. So why the popularity?

Crazy special effects? The $19.8 million budget is minimal by comparison to most large theater releases.

The flawless plot? Can’t be. A quick glance at IMDb’s user review page will help you see that the lack of explanation for the origin of the evil entities, the inconsistent powers/limitations of those entities, the lack of explanation for why some humans remain entirely unaffected by the entities are all problematic. Furthermore, the lack of character dialogue about the cause or intention of the entities is a recurring theme amongst critic reviews. While I can’t speak for the book, most reviewers would consider it a fairly significantly flawed plot. So that can’t explain viewer attraction.

Is the movie’s appeal the fact that Sandra Bullock is incapable of turning in a bad performance? Nope.Although, I’ll admit, this is my favorite movie of hers in a while.

I believe that storytelling, at its best, taps into something powerful that we know deep down, but we previously lacked the intellectual framework, or the vocabulary, to give explanation to. With that, I’ll offer 3 “biblical” reasons why I think Bird Box has been a hit:

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