For those of you who have been living under a rock and haven’t heard or seen any of the recent memes, Bird Box is the dystopian thriller to watch right now. However, the controversy surrounding the film is that people everywhere are claiming that it’s just a rip-off of John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. After doing some research, I found out that Bird Box is based on a book written by Josh Malerman in 2014, four years before A Quiet Place was released. Therefore, one could argue the opposite: A Quiet Place was influenced by Bird Box.
In A Quiet Place, Earth has been invaded by blind murderous creatures who hunt humans through super sensitive hearing. The Abbotts are a family who are trying to survive in complete silence, which is to their advantage as their daughter is deaf and so they all communicate in American Sign Language. They live in a remote country home with a detailed safety system. In a nutshell, they are very good at being quiet.
Note: Major spoilers ahead.
A Quiet Place highlights the lengths that parents will go to ensure the survival of their family. It is a film with zero dialogue but such incredible tension that you don’t even notice the lack of speaking. Despite the fact that A Quiet Place holds 95 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, my review of the film was different. The movie seems focused on the action, so fails to provide a good foundation. We only know how long they’ve been on Earth and how they kill. Because the movie is so action-packed, it doesn’t develop its characters and their relationships properly. Yes, the dad and mom are self-sacrificing and protective. The beef between Lee (John Krasinski) and Reagan (Millicent Simmonds) was so forced and pointless that it didn’t fit with the seriousness of the danger posing this family. Also, in one scene, Lee takes one of his kids by a waterfall where he can yell as much as he wants because apparently, no monsters can get them there. Let’s not forget that the mom, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), is pregnant during the whole movie. Why would these people bring children into a world where they literally cannot speak and will most likely die? Although it was great seeing Blunt and Krasinski (who are married in real life) because they are such talented actors, the premise of this movie was not well done.
Bird Box depicts an unknown phenomenon that has affected the world, where people see mysterious entities and immediately commit suicide. Malorie (Sandra Bullock), a mother with two children, must make a seemingly impossible journey, blindfolded, to get to a safe house, while remembering how it all began.
Birdbox does a good job of portraying a post-apocalyptic world but soon becomes generic. The star-studded cast does brilliant acting, and there are several plot twists that keep you on the edge. There is the element of mystery or confusion, take your pick, where we don’t know how or why the entities kill or came to Earth. They are just as confused as the audience, so I guess that makes up for it. While the character development is strong, it isn’t a positive development, as Malorie becomes obsessed with surviving and not living. Malorie spends a good chunk of the movie harshly teaching her children how to be safe, naming them boy and girl because…names are a luxury? Everything about Bird Box soon lost its mystery and appeal, as characters just kept getting killed off and Malorie becoming stricter with her kids. Personally, I liked A Quiet Place much better than Bird Box because it had more plot and depth to it (which is still saying a lot).
Both of these movies have a lot in common as is often the case with stories in a dystopian setting. The first and most obvious commonality is that both movies have female leads who are committed to keeping their children safe and are also pregnant. The birthing scenes for both movies were difficult to watch due to the fact that there was danger posing the characters during those scenes. Another similar aspect is that fathers or father figures just don’t survive in this genre, which makes me wonder exactly what the writers are trying to say. Moreover, these movies put hearing and sight disabilities as an advantage for survival.
The question we must ask ourselves now is why are these thrillers so compelling? I guess it’s just an escape from reality or an idea of what the future might look like. People like to feel tension and danger without actually being in either case. The crux of it, however, is that it shows us the importance our senses hold, which we take for granted. Sight and hearing are not something we all have, and for those who don’t, the difficulties are a reality.