WARNING: MILD SPOILERS FOR “BIRD BOX” AHEAD.
So….it looks like Netflix has adapted Josh Malerman’s Bird Box into a movie…..
And as you can see, I’m not excited about it.
It’s not that I think all book-to-movie adaptations are bad, in fact some of them are quite good (ex: Holes, Stand By Me, Carrie, Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, etc).
It’s just that some books are not meant to be made into a visual medium for a variety of reasons.
“Bird Box” is one such book.
What makes “Bird Box” so effective as a horror novel is that Marlerman understands people fear the most what they don’t understand. We never see what these creatures look like, nor are we ever given a conclusive explanation as to what they are.
Theories are bounced around–they are us from another dimension, they are angels, etc–but the only way to find out what they are is to look at them.
And once you gaze upon them, you don’t live to tell the tale.
Throughout the novel, the protagonists must rely on their senses (sight excluded) to avoid falling prey to these terrifying beings.
We as readers are wearing metaphorical blindfolds of our own because we only “see” what the characters do. We hear a rustling of leaves, feel a drop in temperature. But we don’t know what’s coming and that makes the experience more visceral.
So whose bright idea was it to turn this story into a movie?
If you made it an audio-drama or podcast series, that would make sense but a movie? A form of entertainment predicated on sight?!
I also have a feeling our monsters in question will fall prey to the movie industry’s vitriolic hatred of ambiguity.
Over the past decade or so the visual arts have developed this strange fetish with over-explaining everything. Hollywood’s releasing of prequel movie after prequel movie is evidence enough of this, answering questions we didn’t want answered. Sometimes the results are good (Rogue One) but most of the time they are not (Solo).
Not to mention, in today’s climate, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to hammer in some “humans bad” message into the mix just for the hell of it.
Book explanation of Creatures:
Well, they could be inter-dimensional beings that transcend our conventional understanding of the universe and our mortal brains simply can’t comprehend them, and thus fall back on a primordial instinct to self-terminate. Unfortunately, we will probably never know.
Move Explanation of Creatures (probably):
They are creatures we created with global warming and heteronormativity and they are taking back the earth in an attempt to restore the balance we destroyed with our hubris. WHEN WILL BE LEARN?!?!
Regardless, I have zero interest in giving this flick a watch.
If the premise draws you in, I recommend reading the book instead. It’s a pretty quick read and will give you hours of enjoyment.