Netflix's new post-apocalyptic thriller Bird Box is set in a world where just looking outside the window can get you killed, so we're here to explain the movie's mysterious monsters and its nail-biting ending. Sandra Bullock stars as Malorie, a woman who is trying to keep her two children - simply called Boy (Julian Edwards) and Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) - alive five years after almost everyone on Earth was killed by the arrival of entities that drive anyone who sees them to violent suicide.
Directed by Susanne Bier and based on the novel by Josh Malerman, Bird Box switches between two time periods: the immediate aftermath of the outbreak, and Malorie's fight for survival, and her efforts five years later to get herself and the kids safely down the river to a promised sanctuary. To begin with she finds herself with a large group of people in a safe house, and even manages to secure a treasure trove of food supplies. However, it isn't long before disaster whittles down their numbers to just Malorie, the two children, and romantic interest Tom (played by Moonlight's Trevante Rhodes).
Malorie and Tom are eking out a mostly peaceful survival in the woods when they receive a call on the radio from someone called Rick (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who tells them that if they can make it down the river there's somewhere safe for them. It's a big risk to take, and one that Malorie is resistant to at first, but Bird Box's ending reveals why she decided to take her kids on such a dangerous trip.
What Happens in Bird Box's Ending
After the sweet but too-trusting Olympia (Danielle MacDonald) lets a stranger, Gary (Tom Hollander), into the house, it's eventually revealed that he is one of the people who can survive looking at the entities, but are corrupted in the process and driven to fanatical worship. Recognizable by their warped irises, these disciples are obsessed with getting other people to look at the entities, which they believe are beautiful. As Olympia and Malorie go into labor simultaneously, Gary reveals his true colors and begins ripping down the covers from the windows. Cheryl (Jacki Weaver) and Olympia both see the entities and promptly kill themselves, though Malorie is able to convince Olympia to hand over her baby girl before she dies. Gary also kills Douglas (John Malkovich) before he himself is finally killed by Tom.
At this point Bird Box moves forward five years in time, to shortly before Malorie takes the kids on the trip down the river. She and Tom are now a couple and have a mostly stable set-up where they can grow their own food, but they've already stripped almost all of the nearby houses bare of resources. After a frightening encounter with a roaming group of marauders corrupted by the entities, they receive a call on the radio from a stranger called Rick, who says there is a sanctuary that can be reached by two days travel along the river. Tom is keen to find out more about the sanctuary, while Malorie is far less trusting, believing that it could be a way to lure them out so that the entities can get them.
The next day, the whole family heads out on a supply run to a neighboring house, but while they're inside the group of marauders arrives at the house. Tom tells Malorie to take the kids and head for the boat if he doesn't return, and then goes to the front of the house to confront the marauders. He succeeds in wounding one of them with the shotgun, but quickly realizes that his blindfold is too much of a handicap. Tom removes his blindfold and successfully manages to kill most of the attackers, but one marauder (played by David Dastmalchian) spots Malorie and the children and takes off after them. Tom pursues him, but catches sight of one of the entities. His irises warp, but with great effort he manages to shoot the final marauder before he is compelled to shoot himself in the head.
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Malorie is distraught upon realizing that Tom must have sacrificed his own life to save them, and decides to carry out his dying wish to try and get herself and the children to the sanctuary. The movie then jumps forward to the moment when their boat is about to go over the rapids, the most dangerous part of the river, and Malorie must choose which of the children has to take off their blindfold in order to tell her which way to row. Ultimately she cannot bring herself to choose either of them, and instead decides to tackle the rapids blind - for better or worse. It's a rough trip, during which the boat eventually overturns, but they manage to make it to shore and start searching for the sanctuary by listening to birdsong.
The final part of the journey proves to be the most difficult. Walking blindfolded through unfamiliar woods is treacherous, and Malorie trips and falls down a slope, briefly knocking herself out. The children wander off in different directions and the entities whisper to them in Malorie's voice, encouraging them to take off their blindfolds. Malorie manages to find Boy by the ringing of his bicycle bell, but Girl has dropped hers and won't come when called, because - as Boy explains - Malorie has been so harsh with them that Girl is afraid of her. Panicking, Malorie apologizes and finishes the story that Tom was telling them earlier, promising that one day the children will be able to play freely with other children and climb trees. To her relief, Girl finally returns, and the three of them make their way to the sanctuary.
Banging frantically on the door as the entities gather behind her, Malorie begs the people inside to at least let her children in. Eventually the door opens and the three of them are ushered inside, where their eyes are quickly checked for signs of infection. Once they are cleared, Malorie realizes that the sanctuary is actually a school for the blind, so most of the inhabitants are completely immune to the entities. Inside the school is a courtyard filled with birds and covered by a green canopy. Malorie tells the children that they can set the birds in their bird box free now, and they do so, watching the birds fly up into the canopy.
Malorie is then reunited with her OB-GYN, Dr. Lapham (Parminder Nagra), who has also survived and is relieved to see that Malorie made it as well. She asks the children what their names are, and they tell her they are called Boy and Girl. Malorie then decides to finally give them names, calling the girl Olympia (after her mother) and the boy Tom (after his late adoptive father). Olympia and Tom then run off to play with the other children, and Bird Box ends on a hopeful note, with Malorie looking up at the canopy full of birds.