In the first trailer for Netflix's Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s character literally faces her worst fears, but without actually looking at them directly. Directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (The Night Manager), Bird Box is an adaption of Josh Malerman’s 2014 debut novel. The narrative takes place in three different time frames, all of which revolve around “The Problem” - visions that make people go absolutely mad, even resulting in suicide.
In the film adaptation, Bullock portrays the protagonist Malorie, who becomes pregnant years after the initial “Problem,” and then must survive by leading her children to safety while blindfolded. Alongside Bullock, John Malkovich (Billions), Sarah Paulson (Glass), and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) have supporting roles, while the screenplay was written by Eric Heisserer, the scribe behind modern horrors like A Nightmare on Elm Street, (2010), Final Destination 5 (2011), The Conjuring 2 (2016), and also Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 science fiction drama Arrival, for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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Today, Netflix released Bird Box’s hyper-dramatic trailer, opening with Bullock’s blindfolded and bruised Malorie as she navigates through a forest. After she delivers the chilling line, “Please don’t take my children,” the trailer goes back in time to explore Malorie’s pregnancy and the narrative context for the lingering “Problem.”
The clip depicts a woman smashing her head against a hospital window, preceding a collective display of chaos in the city streets. When Malorie reaches safety with fellow survivors, she learns that human fears have become physical creatures, thus setting in motion the preparation phase as the characters essentially learn the rules of the deadly game. In the harrowing final sequence, the trailer references the opening, with Malorie explaining to her children the importance of remaining blindfolded, even while on the open waters. Overall, the trailer is mostly blood-free, suggesting that Bier may be interested in psychological horror rather than traditional visual thrills.
In 2008, Malerman wrote the source material prior to the theatrical releases of both M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological horror thriller The Happening (2008) and John Hillcoat’s post-apocalyptic drama The Road (2009). Ten years later, Bird Box's narrative seems ideal for modern cinematic trends, especially after the success of John Krasinski’s 2018 film A Quiet Place, in which the central characters must remain silent to stay alive. For Bird Box, Bier enlisted American cinematographer Salvatore Totino, who previously worked on Ron Howard’s Robert Langdon trilogy (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Inferno) and big-budget films like Everest (2015) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).
In two weeks, Sandra Bullock's new thriller will have its world premiere at AFI Fest in Hollywood. On December 21, Bird Box will be released on Netflix and in select theatres.