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Bird Box

Directed by Susanne Bier and based on Josh Malerman’s novel, ‘Bird Box’ made a big splash when it debuted on Netflix in 2018. Having an Oscar winning star as the lead didn’t hurt either. Whilst Sandra Bullock hasn’t the greatest acting range, it’s interesting seeing her tackle the horror genre. It also shows the potency of today’s steaming world with its ability to hype products in order to gain viewers. With more high profile actors turning to television for more substantial roles, the reversal of the old ‘tv to cinema’ route is complete with works like ‘Bird Box’ further cementing this.

Living in a post-apocalyptic world, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is on the run with her two children. Her pursuer is a sinister supernatural entity forcing people to look at it and suicide. Wearing a blindfold so she can avoid this fate, Malorie crosses rivers and mountains for safety. Along the way, meeting among others, Cheryl (Jackie Weaver), Douglas (Jon Malkovich) and Greg (BD Wong). All battle to survive the shadowy evil waiting to strike when they least expect it.

Although thinly plotted, ‘Bird Box’ is consistently gripping. From the first frame, it notches up the tension with ease. Malorie’s strong-willed personality is immediately apparent as her constants fight for survival pushing her to the limit. Bullock equips herself well, displaying an emotional gravitas previously unseen. Whilst her co-stars are equally strong, ‘Bird Box’ is Bullock’s show all the way.

Under Susanne Bier’s direction, ‘Bird Box’ almost manages to avoid feeling derivative. Whilst aspects of familiar horror tropes creep in, there’s enough originality to make for captivating viewing. The loss of sight gives the characters a vulnerability from the start with the unseen menace posing genuine threat. Bier handles these scenes well, relying on atmosphere than grisly visuals.

‘Bird Box’ generally thrives due to its high calibre cast and script. Bullock puts in a rare good performance with the drama/horror field suiting her limited range. Whist the cinematic experience isn’t about to show its final credits just yet, more films like ‘Bird Box’ increases the allure of streaming with it providing its own unique movie experience.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Based on Alvin Schwartz’s book series, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ is akin to spooky tales told around the campfire. You may know where a story is heading but you enjoy the thrill-ride anyway. The film also takes cue from a plethora of anthology-style films popularised in the 1960’s/70’s. This type of production had multiple stories within its timeframe. Whilst a few segments would be better than others, the way they are told makes them stand out. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ gamely tries to chill the bones as it walks along its dark path.

On Halloween in 1968, a group of teenagers, including Stella (Zoe Colletti), August (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajir) meet mysterious drifter Ramon (Michael Garza). Quickly striking up a friendship, Ramon suggests they explore a supposedly haunted mansion to commemorate the day. There, they discover an old book filled with horror stories. Little do they know of the shocks that await as the book’s evil spell casts a giant shadow over the intrepid group.

‘Scary Stories’ is a horror movie aimed at young adults. Whilst all ages seem to be accepting of whatever horrible visions they see, ‘Scary Stories’ is restrained in that area. It’s more concerned with tense atmosphere and shadowy visuals. It succeeds admirably as it explores how stories can control people instead of the other way around. Whether events are pre-ordained or we make them so is seen with effective scares along the way.

The cast do a fine job in making ‘Scary Stories’ watchable as they dive in with youthful energy. It’s also refreshing seeing a group of teens eager to investigate and solving mysteries. Although the mostly predictable script doesn’t particularly offer much new, it pushes the story along at a good pace and remembers to be actually scary.

Serving up a reasonable dish of light thrills, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ generally delivers. As an entrée to the world of horror for younger viewers it works. Whether we admit it or not, we all like hearing scary tales with this film sure to provide a few more for those enjoying watching these types of films in the dark.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON VARIOUS STREAMING SERVICES.