Starring: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich
Director: Susanne Bier
In a dystopian future, Malorie (Bullock) is single and heavily pregnant when a strange phenonmenon breaks out. People start to turn violent and either kill themselves or kill others. Five years later, Malorie has survived on the understanding that the thing can infect you only if you look at it and that birds start reacting when the thing comes close. Teamed up with Tom (Rhodes) and with her own child and another she’s raised as her own, she hears about a safe place and tries to head there, but can she make it bildfolded with two children, and dangerous people on the loose?
Netflix never ceases to amaze me with the high quality of it’s films, and this one is no expception. Sandra Bullock brings her likeability to Malorie, as a woman who has learnt to survive but who will only learn to really live if she can let people in. Determined to give the two children the best chance they can have, she has never named them so that they won’t be too attached. She’s tough, but also vulnerable. Tom (Rhodes) is more confident, warmer, at first a friend and later something more as they learn how to survive and lean on each other.
The film is told partly in flashback, we have Malorie now heading down river with two children, all blindfolded, and a box of birds. But we head backwards to her life before, through the outbreak and into the house she and other strangers have found refuge in as well. There is a lot of tension both in the past and present, and it’s nicely plotted out and evenly paced.
I thought the idea of an entity that can only effect you if you can see it was a really great idea, but unlike A Quiet Place, where the characters are all pretty stupid and there’s plenty of melodrama, this film was really down to earth and used tension and vulnerability to create something that really gets under your skin. This isn’t a film of jump scares or of situations string along a thin plot. It bases it’s tension in creating characters that you either love or dislike, who do things that people really would do, and who are in an impossible situation. Sometimes this film is really tragic, because the people in it all feel real, have flaws and feel real. They make you care about them and then put them in danger, something that a lot of zombie flicks, for example, fail to do.
I like Sandra Bullock and like a scary movie, but I was surprised about how this film quietly got under my skin and drew me in. It’s full of tension and fear, but based in characters and deft plot, which makes it something really entertaining.
See It If: not overly gory, this film ratchets up the tension and puts you on edge. A great horror thriller that’s more successful than a lot of big screen films.