She calls them Boy and Girl.
Names are a luxury in a world gone awry. Malory knows they could die any day, so no point following cultural norms or social niceties.
Malory remembers when the world was as it should be, just five short years ago. Malory, an artist back then, lived like a hermit—painting her artwork in solitude, and occasionally staying in contact with her brusque but loving sister, Jessica.
She was pregnant then but she tried to ignore the growing life in her, calling her pregnancy a "condition" and the creature inside a "little bean".
"You can't just ignore it and hope it goes away," her doctor tells Malory, giving her a pamphlet on adoption.
Thoughts of adoption, however, vanished minutes later, along with the world's collective sanity.
On the way out, Malory watched as a woman rammed her head into a reinforced glass window again and again—spiderweb cracks spreading underneath the growing blot of blood. Outside, it was chaos too. Cars rammed each other. Instead of running away from flames, some walked into them.
And then, Malory's sister went mad as well: After driving helter-skelter through the streets she suddenly stopped her SUV, walked into the street and stepped in front of a racing dump truck.
Malory found safety with a handful of others in a nearby house. Together, the survivors pieced together a few critical bits of information. The planet had been invaded. But the invaders don't attack physically: Just looking at them was something deadly: Most victims will kill themselves as quickly as possible. The very few who survive that initial glance seem enthralled by the creatures. Beautiful, they call them, as if they were angels. And compulsively, they seek to show others that beauty—ripping off blindfolds, forcing their eyes open.
So many have died since she hid in that house five years ago. Now she feels wholly alone—just her and two children, Boy and Girl. Food is dwindling. Nearby houses have been picked clean.
But Malory hears of a place downstream that offers a walled refuge from the terror. All they have to do is take a boat and ride the current down, down towards the sound of birds.
She'll have to make the journey blindfolded, with two kids in tow. And somehow, they'll have to figure out how to navigate the rapids—impossible to get through, she's told, without seeing them.
Someone will have to open their eyes.
Malory is a fierce and dutiful mother, if not particularly affectionate. "Every single decision I have made has been for them," she yells at her lover, Tom.
But Tom counters that being a mom means more than just protecting her kids: It means loving them, inspiring them and giving them a little hope—even in the worst of circumstances. That's really what Bird Box is about: To explore what it means to live and love and be human when circumstances seek to strip away that humanity with every step.
In the house, Malory walks in on two people having sex in the laundry room. They're both completely naked, although critical parts are shielded from view.
Malory and Tom fall in love and become a couple. There are also brief kissing scenes.
When Malory’s sister walks head-on into that dump truck, we see the impact—body and blood mixed before the truck speeds off camera.
Someone stabs herself in the throat repeatedly. A man tied to a chair manages to tip himself over and smash his head in (off camera). He's found dead, blood pooling on the floor from his unseen wound. Someone leaps from a window and falls to her death. Someone else walks calmly into a car engulfed in flames and sits down in the driver's seat before the vehicle blows up.
The violence isn’t limited to suicides. One man is stabbed repeatedly in the chest with a pair of scissors. Several are shot with revolvers, rifles and shot guns, and many die that way. Characters drive a car with blacked-out windows through some suburban streets littered with debris and bodies. Untended corpses litter several other scenes too.
CRUDE OR PROFANE LANGUAGE
We hear at least 42 f-words and about 17 s-words. Other profanities include "a--," "b--ch," "d--n" and "pr--k."
DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTENT
Before the incident, Jessica and a pregnant Malory talk about ordering and finishing a bottle of wine. Later, a still pregnant Malory sips a little whiskey.
During a supply run, one of the house's inhabitants heads straight for the liquor aisle. "This is truly the happiest place on earth," he says, as he drinks straight from a liquor bottle.
There's an old cliché about nothing being stronger than a mother's love. And lots of times, that's true. But not every mother's love is gentle.
Malory says she was "raised by wolves," under the strict, demanding hand of her father. Given her upbringing, she never wanted to be a mother. Now she is, and she takes her responsibilities very seriously.
But she's missing something.
"Life is more than what is," Tom tells her. "It's what it could be. You need to promise them dreams that might never come true. You need to love them, knowing that you could lose them at any second."
Malory's so wrapped up in surviving the present that she forgets to give her children hope for the future. I think there's an intentional real-world echo to be found in that. Hope and love are the things that life is built from.
Such is the movie's message, and it's a good one as far as it goes. But the positive messages might be undermined by sex, language and brutality. And like its beleaguered characters, I wonder whether a blindfold might be in order.
"These reviews are meant to help parents determine whether a movie is appropriate for their children, and are not an endorsement by Focus on the Family Singapore."
This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.