Netflix’s Bird Box Review: Possibly The Best-est Netflix Show After House of Cards

Image: Netflix

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with Netflix (what’s wrong with you?!), and wonders why there’s a “Netflix movie” when it’s merely a streaming platform that streams dramas or movies made by others, here are some facts you probably need to know.

Netflix doesn’t just stream shows: they’re so big and rich, they make their own shows, and these shows are not made by indie producers who’re looking to make it big: they’re high-budget, cinematic movies or dramas with mainstream superstars like Brad Pitt or Will Smith.

While these movies never make it to the cinemas, they do win prestigious awards: for example, House of Cards received eight Golden Globe Awards nominations and won two awards.

So if you still think web television is akin to those videos made by the trashy Goody Feed, you need to come back to 2018 because TV and cinemas are so yesterday.

Bird Box, The Only Netflix Movie That Has a Number

Bird Box is yet another Netflix movie that’s filmed in October 2017, and released on the streaming platform worldwide on 21 December 2018.

The movie is based on a bestselling novel of the same name that’s published in 2014. Universal Pictures first optioned the book (optioning means they buy the exclusive rights to make a movie based on the book, but need not make it if they don’t want to) in 2013 prior to the book’s release, but the producer “jumped ship” to Netflix and therefore Netflix went on to buy the rights in 2017.

It’s so popular, scenes from the movie has been meme-ified, not just international but in Singapore as well.

Netflix has always been very secretive about viewership: House of Cards has many views, but you’ll never get to know the exact number. Netflix would just say it’s a hit and won’t provide any numbers.

Industry experts think that those data give them a competitive edge, since they’ll be able to use them to decide what shows to produce or bring into their platform.

But for the first time in Netflix’s history, they put a number to a show: in 7 days after Bird Box’s release, it has been viewed by more than 45 million accounts. Each view is at least 70% of the total running time (including credits).

And since we’re all kiasu fellows who share Netflix accounts, the exact number of viewers could be much higher, given that some accounts are even shared by a family.

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Here’s the more shocking revelation: Netflix has about 137 million subscribers worldwide. That being said, for every three Netflix accounts, one has watched the movie.

Now, if this number is translated into mainstream box office, it would have been the highest box office opening with an opening week of USD$411 million—much more than the current record of USD$390 million.

Of course, it’s “free” and convenient compared to mainstream movies, so people tend to watch it if they’ve an account. And industry experts aren’t buying it because the numbers look a tad like Netflix is trying to show off; moreover, it’s not vetted by a third party.

So, is it really that good?

Here’s what a Singaporean thinks.

Compelling, Engaging & Possibly the Most Binge-worthy Show Ever

The premise of Bird Box is simple: invisible “creatures” have suddenly appeared outdoors, and anyone who sees them would commit suicide almost immediately. A pregnant lady, played by the 54-year-old Sandra Bullock who looks 34, found a safe house together with a group of survivors. Soon, she then made a journey, together with two surviving kids, to a promised sanctuary that’s free from the “creatures”, but has to travel via a rowing boat blindfolded.

Unlike movies we see in theatres, whereby we’ll have to watch from start to end if not we’ll waste our hard-earned $12, web movies need one more important factor to gain viewership: pace.

A slow-paced movie might work well in cinema, letting the viewers feel for the characters through long-winded and character-driven expositions, but do that for a web movie and viewers would be watching another show within seconds.

Bird Box’s pace is fast: every second leads to a new revelation, and they managed to keep viewers engaged by revealing more secrets about the so-called “creatures”. Despite it 2-hour run, it manages to make each character either extremely likable or extremely unlikable.

The movie doesn’t allow you to take a breather because every second counts—even irrelevant dialogue (which would be relevant if you watch to the end and try to interpret the story) would cut off after a few lines.

An example would be an introduction of a new character into the safe house. He looked harmless until he decided to open all the windows, leading characters to see the outside world and kill themselves. You’ll then start to wonder: Why’s he doing that? What does he mean by “cleanse the world?” What are the creatures?

A binge-worthy show would answer a question with another question, kind of like how the sci-fi series LOST hooked us in the past, and Bird Box has successfully done it.

Ending Leads People to Hate It

Despite its engaging premise and its fast pace, it merely gets a 66% approval rating in Rotten Tomatoes, and most people who’s watched it would agree with me: the ending sucks.

Well, maybe not if you take the effort to think about the movie in general, and how everything actually ties up a loose end, but it’s Netflix, for God’s sake, and not some artsy farty Shakespeare’s play.

People on the Internet don’t want to spend hours interpreting the ending, or Googling what the ending means. They want a closure fast and move on to the next movie.

So if you’re one who doesn’t like an ambiguous ending, and prefer something like a Channel 8 drama that spells the ending for you, then you’re going to hate it.

But for most of us? Shut off your brain and watch it, and it’ll be an enjoyable two hours.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Spoilers Ahead: Ending Explained

Now, if you’ve watched it and want the ending to be interpreted for you, here’s one from me.

Before anything, do note this: there are many interpretations, and like what my literature major colleagues would say, once a story is written, the author is dead so you can interpret a story whatever way you want it.

In other words, please don’t send hate mails to us just because you interpret it differently.

The question that most people have is this: What are the creatures?

Here’s a simple explanation: the question shouldn’t be a “what”, but a “what they represent”.

The so-called creatures are the harsh reality that people cannot tahan: when people see the creatures, they see the harsh reality and have strong suicidal urges immediately.

However, people who are “crazy” won’t have the urges after seeing the harsh reality, because unlike normal people, they live in their own world which could have been harsh all the while.

For normal people, we’ve filtered away the harshness through a blindfold, which is a motif for the ending: the blind people couldn’t see the harshness of the world.

So, is there really a creature, or is the entire movie merely a representation of reality when our “blindfolds” are taken off?

Food for though, eh?

Well, now that you know (and thank God there are so many high-SES literature majors in Goody Feed), do you think the movie is a horror film, or a psychological horror film?

I’ll say it’s the latter, if you bother to think about it.

But hey, as mentioned, it’s Netflix; just chill lah.