Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (The Night Manager), who directed Netflix's newest horror-thriller Bird Box, has spoken out about altering the ending of the book. Following its release, the movie has been receiving mixed reactions from viewers, but has become a viral sensation.
The post-apocalyptic film is based on Josh Malerman's 2014 debut novel of the same name. In the film adaptation, supernatural entities are driving members of society to commit suicide by taking the shape of their worst fears or regrets. Sandra Bullock stars as Malorie, the film's protagonist who struggles to get her children to safety, all the while blindfolded in order to avoid seeing the aforementioned entities. As shown in the trailer, the film takes place over two time periods, first showing the outbreak's initial effects and then detailing Malorie's attempts at getting her children to safety. However, the adaptation's ending was slightly different compared to Malerman's novel, and Bier has addressed the decision to make changes that resulted in those differences. The film also stars Sarah Paulson, Milton Howery, B.D. Wong, Colson Baker, Julian Edwards, Tom Hollander, Trevante Rhodes, Danielle Mcdonald, and Vivien Lyra Blair.
During an interview with Polygon, Bier defended her decision to make changes to the book's ending. She explains that she didn't want to make an apocalyptic film that didn't have a hopeful ending, especially considering that all of her films tend to end with a sense of optimism. In the film, Malorie and her kids appear to have a bright future ahead of them, and even though it shifts slightly from the novel, Bier felt that it was a necessary choice. When asked about the film's hopeful ending, she said:
"The movie is slightly more positive. The movie is, in many aspects, different from the book, but it’s also very rooted in the book. The book also has a kind of positive ending and I would not have wanted to do an apocalyptic movie that didn’t have a hopeful ending. In a way, pretty much everything I’ve done has had some sort of a hopeful ending. I’m not particularly interested for the audience to leave, from the cinema or their own screen, with a kind of completely bleak point of view. That’s not really what I believe in."
Bird Box has been compared to both M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and A Quiet Place, which also involves creatures who force characters to suppress one of their five senses. And, speaking of the creatures, though they're never revealed in the film, screenwriter Eric Heisserer revealed that there was originally a scene that would have showcased them before it was was ultimately cut from the final cut. The reason it was cut from the film was on account of the creature not being scary enough. In fact, when Bullock first saw it, she found it laughable.
While the ending of the film was hopeful, it didn't stop some viewers from considering it to be somewhat disappointing. In fact, whether it has to do with the comparisons to A Quiet Place or not, Bird Box has been polarizing to say the least. It's divided critics and audiences alike; and, whether audiences would have preferred the original, darker ending or not, the fact that it's being discussed is reason enough to consider it - despite the criticisms - a success.