Bird Box is a doomsday thriller directed by Susanne Bier. The story of Bird Box is based on the book by the same name. The film stars Sandra Bullock in the lead role with a supporting cast that includes John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, and rapper Machine Gun Kelly. Bird Box’s plot revolves around the uprising of supernatural creatures which surface the worst fears and regrets in the mind of people who make visual contact. That would explain why the blindfolds. Much comparison has been made with the film A Quiet Place. One movie where people can’t talk and the other where they can’t see. Let’s talk about some key elements in the Bird Box movie. Here’s the explanation of the plot and ending of Bird Box, spoilers ahead.
In case you are curious to know how different the film is from the book, check out – Bird Box : Movie vs Book.
Bird Box: What Is It About?
So, it’s doomsday. The end of the world. And it has come in the form of creatures who instill so much anguish and despair that it makes people commit suicide by merely looking at it. There is no rhyme or reason to the arrival of the creatures all over the world, but the wave of suicides begins in Russia and quickly sweeps the whole world. Most people die, and the survivors need to blindfold themselves so that they don’t end up killing themselves.
Bird Box Creatures: What are they?
While we are never directly shown what these creatures look like, there is a scene well into the film where we see drawings that could possibly indicate what the monsters are. Here are the illustrations:
We’ll get to how these drawing got made later on, but these look like various images of demons from hell. In this film, the apocalyptic end of humans (and perhaps animals) comes in the form of self-destruction. But it’s not indeed the end, which is what Bird Box is about.
We also have a conversation in the film:
They come in all different forms. You got the Aka Manah, the various Daevas from ancient Zoroastrian legend. You’ve got the Surgat from ancient Christian occult beliefs that made pregnant women encounter their unborn children as other creatures such as lobsters or spiders. You’ve got the Huli-jing from China. You’ve got the Puca from Celtic mythology. All different names, but the same thing. The end of us.
So enough hints are dropped in the film to suggest demons. But hey, could be an alien invasion too.
How do the creates affect the humans?
- Humans get affected only if you see them.
- Regular humans commit suicide on visual contact.
- Humans who already have mental issues consider it to be an act of divine cleansing and go around forcing everyone to see them. The theory is that crazy people have already been through extreme emotions of sorrow and despair and are, in a sense, immune.
Bird Box: Do the creatures affect animals too?
Well, the film has no explicit mention. But, through the plot, we don’t see any animals. It’s a fair assumption to make that the animals, too, have had the same reaction to the creatures. The book, however, does feature animals and you can read about it here – Bird Box: Movie vs Book.
What’s with the birds in Bird Box?
Well, the theory in the movie is that birds get agitated in their presence. We see this in various scenes throughout the film. While this is the case, it is not clear if the birds are immune to the creatures. The only birds we see in the movie Bird Box are shielded from the monsters just as the surviving humans are. Again, the book does take a stand on this matter, you can read about it – Bird Box: Movie vs Book.
And with that information, we can now move to the summary of the plot. Let’s go through the story linearly.
Bird Box Plot Synopsis
Malorie and Jessica
They are sisters. Malorie is expecting a baby and has been ditched by the guy she was with to have the baby all by herself. It doesn’t look like Malorie is too keen about the baby considering her situation. Jessica is her cheerful, supportive sister. They see the news about mass suicides in Romania and Russia. Jessica takes Malorie to the doctor for a regular check-up.
The Chaos Begins
At the hospital, one lady sees the creature and begins to bash her head violently on the glass pane. Malorie makes a run for it. She tells Jessica that whatever they saw in the news about Russia is also happening in their city. People start going crazy all around them, and they drive out.
Just as Malorie turns behind to get the phone, Jessica sees the creature. She’s overcome with despair and crashes the car. She then steps out of the car and backs away into a moving bus as Malorie watches helplessly. She runs towards a house where a woman comes out to help. Malorie survives by happening to not look at the creature. The woman, however, glimpses the monster and hallucinates about her dead mother. She proceeds to enter a burning car which then explodes.
The Safe House
Inside the house, the woman’s husband, Douglas, watches on helplessly. Malorie gets taken into the house by Tom (who asks her to keep her eyes down) where she meets a bunch of survivors. They shut their doors and windows and share notes on the patterns that the people are following. They agree that it has something to do with “seeing” the creature and cover up their windows. The people who remain in the house are:
- Malorie – the leading lady
- Tom – the savior guy
- Douglas – the cynical guy
- Cheryl – the older woman
- Lucy – the younger woman
- Felix – the younger guy
- Greg – house owner
- Charlie – supermarket clerk
- Olympia- another pregnant lady who stumbles on to the house
Greg comes up with the idea to see the surveillance camera footage. He believes that it is not direct and the digitized imagery on the screen should be enough to keep him safe. He believes wrongly, and kills himself.
Malorie, Tom, Douglas, Charlie, and Lucy head out driving in a car with screened windows. They use the proximity sensor and GPS to get to the Supermarket. Thought they get attacked by a creature, they reach in one piece. Charlie has the keys to the store because he locked it up before things started going crazy. Malorie finds some birds and takes them with her. Then, they hear a man calling for help from outside. It’s someone who works at the store with Charlie. Charlie mentions that the guy has been to prison and he’s a bit crazy. The birds start getting agitated as they are brought close to the guy. But the forewarning provided by these birds is hardly ever put to any use in this film. As it turns out, he is crazy and attacks the group. Charlie sacrifices himself and saves the rest. Behind the door, the guy makes Charlie look and presumably, Charlie kills himself, and you see his blood flowing in.
Lucy and Felix elope
Felix and Lucy decide to steal the car and make a run for it. Now, this is a pretty thoughtless move by the two of them (and the story writer). The two of them were part of a group what was caring enough, and they stood a higher chance of survival in a house. Heading out in the car, covered up, and blindfolded, would not take them far. Besides, at this point, they don’t realize that there is a group of people out there who are running around forcing people to open their eyes. In the context of the story and characters, their running away doesn’t add any value, other than to reinforce the “asshole theory”. We never hear from the two again, and we can presume that they went to live in the supermarket (as Douglas earlier proposes) and didn’t make it.
Who is Gary? What is Northwood?
Later on, Olympia, on her own, allows a guy knocking on their door. She remembers herself on the outside at one point and takes pity on this man. She lets him in, and the other come and check to see if he’s a threat. He introduces himself to be Gary and that he was attacked by a bunch of psychos from Northwood who are forcing people to see. Northwood is a mental institution for the criminally insane. As we discussed before, these people are immune but go around forcing people to look.
Gary is lying. He wasn’t attacked by the psychos. He is one himself. Maybe he is not from Northwood, but he was insane enough to have not been affected by the sight of the monster. Douglas is the only one who suspects him, but they knock Douglas out and leave him in the garage.
The babies are born. Olympia, Cheryl, and Douglas die
Olympia and Malorie have their babies simultaneously. The birds do make some noise when Gary arrives, but as I said, no one seems to be utilizing the birds in the film. He puts them in the freezer and lays out his drawings of what we can assume to be the visions he saw when he looked at the creature. Either that is how the monsters look, or that’s what he sees because he is criminally insane. Gary knocks out Tom and goes up and opens the windows. He forces Cheryl’s eyes open, she kills herself. Then Olympia sees it. Malorie is able to distract Olympia just enough to take the baby before Olympia hurls herself out the window. Douglas shows up with the gun, but because he can’t open his eyes, he shoots Gary in the arm. Gary kills Douglas. Tom kills Gary, leaving only Tom and Malorie (and the two babies) the sole survivors in the house.
5 years later
Malorie and Tom are now an item, and they live on with the kids. They make runs to get supplies, and the place is swarming with psychos who drive around looking for survivors who they force to look. Malorie has named the kids “boy” and “girl” because she feels a regular name is a luxury and is not essential to survive. Malorie has become very cynical and just lives to survive. Tom tells there that’s no way to exist.
Who is Rick?
On the walkie-talkie, they get a message from a guy named Rick.
We have a place. A compound with enough supplies. We have a community.
It’s safe here. We’re down by the river’s end. The fastest way to get here is by the river, and I don’t think you could make it with kids. After the rapids, you’ll hear the birds. We’ve got a lot of them. Just follow the sound to us. Down a small embankment, you’ll find a wall with a gate.
Rick is someone who’s been sending out messages to call people to their safe zone.
On one of their runs for supplies, they get attacked by a group of psychos. Tom protects Malorie and the kids by taking off his blindfold and shooting down the attackers. He ends up seeing the creature, but before killing himself, he kills the last member of the psycho group.
Leaving on a boat
Malorie leaves with the kids preparing for a 2-day journey on the river. They run into a psycho on the way who she overcomes. They stop to restock on supplies and blankets as the boat has a tumble. Finally, as they arrive at the rapids, Malorie explains to the kids that one of them is going to have to look to ensure they make it. Boy offers to look, and Malorie says she will choose who is to see. Girl too offers to look. It seems like Malorie was planning to have Girl do the peeking because it’s not her own child, but she remembers her promise to Olympia to take care of her daughter. She decides they are going to attempt to do the rapids with their blindfolds on.
The final run
The rapids are harsh, the boat tumbles. Miraculously they all survive – even the birds in the box. At this point, as audiences, we are really beginning to wonder what on earth the relevance of the birds is given they never really use their one skill. They get to shore and try to follow the sound of birds coming from the safe haven. The creatures do their best to get Malorie into taking off her blindfolds by inducing voices of Tom and other dead people in her head. She gets separated for a short while from the kids. The creatures almost convince the kids to take off their blindfolds, but Malorie gives her winning speech right on time and saves the kids.
Bird Box Ending Explained
They reach the safe haven and Rick meets Malorie and the kids. She figures that the safe haven was a school for the blind and their disability helped them survive. The place is filled with many blind people, including Rick, and also other survivors with vision who made it there (just like Malorie). The enclosed section has a whole bunch of birds which act as the warning sign when creatures approach. As an overdramatized the ending, we see Malorie’s doctor show up (who happens to be a survivor too) and they talk. Malorie finally names the two kids Olympia and Tom and accepts her motherhood to bring the movie to a close.
Click below for the Bird Box Movie vs Book analysis:
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Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
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