Okay. I waited two weeks to finally watch the Netflix movie Bird Box, the horror film where a spreading virus / madness / airborne invasion attacks people into suicide – and to spread to others to convince them to commit suicide.
If you’ve seen the film, you probably have an opinion as to what the “invasion” symbolizes – is it a metaphor for the rise in social media, for the invasion of Trump supporter mentality, a representation of the outbreak of ebola / e. coli / AIDS – or maybe it’s just a twist on the Walking Dead / Night of the Living Dead zombie apocalypse.
After watching it yesterday, I’ve decided that I’m not so much concerned about what the outbreak symbolizes – I found a more interesting concept on how the virus was spread. How it was spread through simply looking, seeing, viewing. You could argue that Bird Box was a direct antecedent for horror film classics like The Ring or Poltergeist.
When I watched it, I could only think of two different instances where something damaging could be spread by simply a whisper or a thought.
One such instance came from a Twilight Zone episode. Or as I call it, a TZ2 episode.
Quick note – there are FIVE separate Twilight Zone iterations. Rod Serling hosted the 1959-1964 run; the second iteration ran on CBS for two seasons from 1985-1987; a syndicated version appeared from 1988 to 1990; and Forest Whittaker narrated the fourth version in the mid-2000’s, a version that ran for one season on the UPN network. The fifth Twilight Zone iteration, hosted by Jordan Peele, will air on CBS All Access later this year.
But the TZ2 episode I’m referring to is called “Need To Know,” and it stars a pre-CSI William Petersen in a town where madness spreads by the simple whisper of a secret.
Here’s the episode, which some kind soul uploaded to YouTube.
Now if you’re going to use the theory that a whispered secret can cause madness…
Then we must also include in this oeuvre a classic sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
You’ve seen this one, haven’t you? The classic “Funniest Joke in the World” sketch?
Yes, that one. Oh, and by the way, did you know that Monty Python cast member Michael Palin was just knighted by Queen Elizabeth II as part of her New Year’s Day Honours? That’s right, he’s Sir Lumberjack and he’s okay… he sleeps all night and he works all day…
But getting back to Bird Box. It was a decent enough film, a typical “assorted characters trapped with an unknown evil outside” film, which is fine. And Sandra Bullock could give Winona Ryder some lessons in how to act exasperated in a Netflix program.
But the film, for me, was just okay. The ending, I should note, brings the film closer to 1950’s-era horror films with uplifting resolved endings – The Invasion of the Body Snatchers and War of the Worlds are two prime examples. Maybe even Day of the Triffids. Something where you’re scared for two hours, and at the last moment, some deus ex machina brings the film to a positive conclusion. Been there … done that … and done it again.
To wrap things up – I watched Bird Box, and honestly, I’d rather wait for springtime and actually BUILD a bird box. Something for the blue jays and cardinals and other assorted songbirds…