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Review: Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’ is an Ambitious Post-Apocalyptic Adaptation

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Bird Box

Based on Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel of the same name, Netflix’s Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic tale of family, sacrifice, and survival. 

In Bird Box, the world is suddenly thrown into chaos with the arrival of new and mysterious beings. Anyone who sees one of these creatures will immediately lose their mind with fear, causing deadly harm to themselves and others. The film follows Malorie (Sandra Bullock, Gravity) as she takes refuge in a house with a group of strangers, all trying to adapt to this new and horrific reality. 

via IMDb

Part of what makes Malerman’s novel so effective is that the book challenges our other senses as a reader. Malorie can’t see what’s happening, so the most horrific scenes rely on her description of what she senses, hears, and feels. Our imagination runs wild to create our own idea of what the creatures might look like.

It’s a phenomenal story that’s brilliantly written (you really should read it), but it’s a difficult book to adapt to a visual medium.

Writer Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Lights Out) and Award-winning director Susanne Bier (In a Better World, Brothers) find some creative workarounds to keep the momentum going. For example, the housemates black out the windows of a car and use parking sensors to navigate a supply run. But when you’re relying so heavily on the actor’s reactions to what they hear, it’s hard to maintain that tension.

One of the film’s strongest scenes is the sudden, chaotic societal unraveling as this strange epidemic sweeps through the city. The fear is palpable as panic sets in — no one knows what’s going on.

This scene is followed by the introduction of several characters all at once, which presents a different kind of chaos. The strangers talk over each other and speculate on what exactly is happening. Admittedly, this scene feels rushed and cluttered, and ends on a bit of a confusing note as the group suddenly lands on an explanation for these catastrophic otherworldly events.

As far as exposition goes, it’s like a whack to the back of the head with a baseball bat; it’s blunt, it’s fast, and you’re not really sure where it came from.

via Vulture

The cast is stacked with strong performers including John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Trevante Rhodes (The Predator), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$), Tom Hollander (Gosford Park), and the aforementioned Sandra Bullock,

As is expected with a large cast in a horror film, many are there for the purpose of being written out. Which is – again – expected, but the way they make their exit doesn’t always make a ton of sense.

Of course, as with any adaptation, scenes and timelines need to be condensed, and certain beats need to be hit for the story to progress. But it’s another element of the film that really feels rushed, and arguably, this is an area that shouldn’t be. 

Another challenge of adaptations is the pacing, and Bird Box is a tricky film to pace. Each scene is an alternating “chapter” in the life of Malorie, switching between the events of the present (as she navigates rough terrain with her children in the search for safe haven), and memories of the past (that explain how they got to this point in their lives).

The transitions between the scenes – for the most part – are pretty smooth, though it does throw a bit of a wrench into the momentum of the film. However, the time slip does give a breather between events, which helps smooth out the storytelling and stretches the intensity.

via IGN

Though Malorie is very pregnant, she’s neither invested in nor prepared to be a mother. Bird Box puts a focus on Malorie’s identity as a mother and how her cautious survival mindset has affected her children and their relationship as a family.

When you get down to it, Bird Box is all about this concept of family. It’s about what we learn from them, and how we relate to each family member. It challenges the idea of what makes a family and how those bonds are formed. It highlights what it means to be a family.

Malorie – as a character – is consistently strong. She’s outspoken, confident, and comfortable wielding a shotgun. Bullock embodies the character with ease, bringing her relatable charm and candor to the role. And in a time where there’s an industry double-standard for the age differences in on-screen relationships, it’s great to see Bullock turn the tables on that trope. Take that, Tom Cruise. 

via Den of Geek

Book-to-film adaptations are always tricky, and – as previously stated – this is a particularly difficult book to adapt for a visual medium. As a two-hour movie, Bird Box rushes some scenes while others linger a bit too long.

That said, these lingering moments flesh out the film with a realistically complex humanity. Under Bier’s direction, the film is enriched with strong emotion and some well-executed moments of tense horror.

Bird Box is an intense ambitious, creeping thriller about survival and sacrifice, and the lasting effect they have on family. It’s a serviceable adaptation that doesn’t quite meet its full potential, but – to pull a lesson from the film itself – there are far worse things you could see.

via IMDb
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Another Creepy Spider Movie Hits Shudder This Month

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Good spider films are a theme this year. First, we had Sting and then there was Infested. The former is still in theaters and the latter is coming to Shudder starting April 26.

Infested has been getting some good reviews. People are saying that it’s not only a great creature feature but also a social commentary on racism in France.

According to IMDb: Writer/director Sébastien Vanicek was looking for ideas around the discrimination faced by black and Arab-looking people in France, and that led him to spiders, which are rarely welcome in homes; whenever they’re spotted, they’re swatted. As everyone in the story (people and spiders) is treated like vermin by society, the title came to him naturally.

Shudder has become the gold standard for streaming horror content. Since 2016, the service has been offering fans an expansive library of genre movies. in 2017, they began to stream exclusive content.

Since then Shudder has become a powerhouse in the film festival circuit, buying distribution rights to movies, or just producing some of their own. Just like Netflix, they give a film a short theatrical run before adding it to their library exclusively for subscribers.

Late Night With the Devil is a great example. It was released theatrically on March 22 and will begin streaming on the platform starting April 19.

While not getting the same buzz as Late Night, Infested is a festival favorite and many have said if you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to take heed before watching it.

Infested

According to the synopsis, our main character, Kalib is turning 30 and dealing with some family issues. “He’s fighting with his sister over an inheritance and has cut ties with his best friend. Fascinated by exotic animals, he finds a venomous spider in a shop and brings it back to his apartment. It only takes a moment for the spider to escape and reproduce, turning the whole building into a dreadful web trap. The only option for Kaleb and his friends is to find a way out and survive.”

The film will be available to watch on Shudder starting April 26.

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Part Concert, Part Horror Movie M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Trap’ Trailer Released

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In true Shyamalan form, he sets his film Trap inside a social situation where we aren’t sure what is going on. Hopefully, there is a twist at the end. Furthermore, we hope it’s better than the one in his divisive 2021 movie Old.

The trailer seemingly gives away a lot, but, as in the past, you can’t rely on his trailers because they are often red herrings and you are being gaslit to think a certain way. For instance, his movie Knock at the Cabin was completely different than what the trailer implied and if you hadn’t read the book on which the film is based it was still like going in blind.

The plot for Trap is being dubbed an “experience” and we aren’t quite sure what that means. If we were to guess based on the trailer, it’s a concert movie wrapped around a horror mystery. There are original songs performed by Saleka, who plays Lady Raven, a kind of Taylor Swift/Lady Gaga hybrid. They have even set up a Lady Raven website to further the illusion.

Here is the fresh trailer:

According to the synopsis, a father takes his daughter to one of Lady Raven’s jam-packed concerts, “where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.”

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Trap stars Josh Hartnett, Ariel Donoghue, Saleka Shyamalan, Hayley Mills and Allison Pill. The film is produced by Ashwin Rajan, Marc Bienstock and M. Night Shyamalan. The executive producer is Steven Schneider.

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Woman Brings Corpse Into Bank To Sign Loan Papers

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Warning: This is a disturbing story.

You have to be pretty desperate for money to do what this Brazilian woman did at the bank to get a loan. She wheeled in a fresh corpse to endorse the contract and she seemingly thought the bank employees wouldn’t notice. They did.

This weird and disturbing story comes via ScreenGeek an entertainment digital publication. They write that a woman identified as Erika de Souza Vieira Nunes pushed a man she identified as her uncle into the bank pleading with him to sign loan papers for $3,400. 

If you’re squeamish or easily triggered, be aware that the video captured of the situation is disturbing. 

Latin America’s largest commercial network, TV Globo, reported on the crime, and according to ScreenGeek this is what Nunes says in Portuguese during the attempted transaction. 

“Uncle, are you paying attention? You must sign [the loan contract]. If you don’t sign, there’s no way, as I cannot sign on your behalf!”

She then adds: “Sign so you can spare me further headaches; I can’t bear it any longer.” 

At first we thought this might be a hoax, but according to Brazilian police, the uncle, 68-year-old Paulo Roberto Braga had passed away earlier that day.

 “She attempted to feign his signature for the loan. He entered the bank already deceased,” Police Chief Fábio Luiz said in an interview with TV Globo. “Our priority is to continue investigating to identify other family members and gather more information regarding this loan.”

If convicted Nunes could be facing jail time on charges of fraud, embezzlement, and desecration of a corpse.

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