The Real Reason You Never See the Monsters in Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’
Warning: This post contains spoilers about the movie Bird Box.
Sometimes the scariest monsters are the ones you never see.
Netflix’s original movie Bird Box is a smashing success. It racked up an impressive 45 million viewers in the first seven days of release and continues to enchant audiences and scare the crap out of people. But this isn’t a traditional gore-fest. Bird Box is a psychological thriller with a post-apocalyptic twist where the scariest parts are the ones you’ll never see.
What is ‘Bird Box’?
The story follows a woman named Malorie who is trying to get her two young children to safety from some kind of monsters. The sight of these horrific beings, whatever they are, is so appalling that it causes people to commit suicide immediately after seeing them. Malorie must navigate a river of rushing rapids to get her children to safety. She’s so terrified of loving and losing her offspring that she doesn’t even name them.
What are the monsters in ‘Bird Box’?
One of the cleverest things producers did for the movie was choosing to keep the monsters hidden from the audience. The idea is that whatever you can imagine is probably scarier than what would be shown on screen. In other words, your monster is personal – and that’s what’s really frightening.
Screenwriter Eric Heisserer admitted that producers almost chose to show the monsters, but then decided it was scarier to refrain from revealing them.
“There was a time when one of the producers was like, ‘No, you have to see something at some point’ and forced me to write essentially a nightmare sequence where Malorie experiences one in that house,” Heisserer said.
What would the monsters have looked like?
It all leads fans to question – what would the monsters have looked like? There’s an answer for that.
Sandra Bullock described the creatures this way: “It was a green man with a horrific baby face,” she said. “It was snake-like, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to see it when it first happens. Just bring it into the room. We’ll shoot the scene.’ I turn and he’s like this [growling at me.] It’s making me laugh. It was just a long fat baby.”
Laughter was the opposite reaction that movie producers wanted to convey. Fearing that audiences would think it was stupid or funny, the scenes with monster reveals ultimately got cut out.
The monsters are different for everyone
Director Susanne Bier summed it up perfectly when she said,
“Whatever those beings are, they tap into your deepest fear. Everybody’s deepest fear is going to be different from the other person. I think to suddenly take upon a concrete shape in order to illustrate that becomes weak. Where the conceit is really strong, then trying to illustrate it is kind of almost meaningless. So it would have been the wrong decision.”
Not showing the monsters in the movie had another benefit, too. Leaving unanswered, open-ended questions, like what will happen to the children and what the monsters look like, means there could be a sequel to explore these topics. Time will tell if that happens in 2019.