This article contains multiple spoilers for the Netflix film “Bird Box.”
The bird box in “Bird Box” is full of holes so the birds can breathe; “Bird Box” the movie is full of holes so the audience can meme.
For a certain type of fan, half the fun of watching “Bird Box” is pointing out all the logical gaps. The rules in “Bird Box” are never fully articulated, never fully understood, leaving room to debate its mysteries and its deeper allegorical meaning (if any). It’s a movie that loves to raise unanswerable questions, and over the last few weeks, the internet has followed suit: Where did these monsters originate? Was Jacki Weaver’s character a doctor the whole time? Where did Felix and Lucy go?
The film has drawn widespread comparisons to last year’s other big sensory-deprivation horror film, “A Quiet Place,” which has plenty of its own inconsistencies. But many of the apparent gaps in “Bird Box” have explanations if you know where to look: Some are tucked away in the movie itself; others can be found in the source novel by Josh Malerman.
Below, we’ve done our best to plug some of the holes. And while we may never know what really caused the suicide pandemic — or why any normal person’s kitchen needs a huge glass-fronted freezer — we do think the Janet Tucker School for the Blind has a few things to investigate.
Why run from the creatures if they aren’t solid?
Panic maybe? Otherwise … there is no reason. No one can agree on what these entities are — Cthulhu-like demons? biowarfare artifacts? handy metaphors? — but whatever they are, this much seems apparent: They do not have a solid, corporeal form.
They can infiltrate your head, imitate voices, throw creepy shadows, even whip up the wind, but they don’t seem able to break down doors or open windows. Their presence sets off a car’s proximity sensors, but they can’t blow off your blindfold. So don’t take it off yourself. And also don’t run! Especially if you can’t see where you’re going. Because you’re still wearing that blindfold, right?
What about people who have blurry vision?
That blindfold worn by Malorie (Sandra Bullock) doesn’t obscure everything — some play of light and shadow always seeps through. This suggests that those with limited sight might be safe if they remove their corrective lenses: Somewhere in the spectrum, between perfect eyesight and none, lies a critical threshold.
Greg’s experiment with the security camera proved fatal, but he was probably onto something. In the book (in which the character is called George), he has a number of other ideas — refracted glass, indirect vision — but he never gets a chance to experiment with them.
How is Fish Finger still alive?
Charlie’s (Lil Rel Howery) co-worker from the seafood department, known as Fish Finger (Matt Leonard), was trapped on a loading dock for at least four days. The human body can’t survive more than four days without water, and yet Fish Finger is still strong enough to force open a door while three people do their best to hold it closed. How did he survive?
Charlie describes Fish Finger as “a bit crazy”; according to the story’s logic, he must have been more mentally disturbed than Charlie realized. That partly explains his survival. But how mentally ill was he? That may explain the rest. When we catch a glimpse inside the loading dock, we see a couple of dead bodies. A close look at the bodies and the blood on his fingers suggest what he did to stay nourished. Getting Charlie to see the creatures — “Look at it, Charlie, it’s beautiful” — also provided Fish Finger with a new snack.
How did Tom and Malorie manage to keep looking so hot?
After five years of sub-optimum nutrition, Malorie is still looking toned. Tom (Trevante Rhodes) still has his six-pack. (And, as Missy Elliott noted on Twitter, “His hair cut stayed sharp.”) Although the film mostly shows us stale Pop-Tarts, the book has them stocking up the cellar with canned food, including sources of protein such as tuna, refried beans and nuts, by raiding abandoned homes. (The movie follows Malorie on one of what we can assume are many of those raids.) The garden in the movie seems fairly extensive, too.
Worried about running out, Malorie also learned to fish while blindfolded, using a rusted fishing pole fashioned from an umbrella, according to the book. In the movie, watch how she counts down the steps on her way to the river — she has been here before. As for attractive body tone, look at all the running around they have to do! Still, in the book, Malorie is gaunt, her skin tight and sallow from malnutrition. So maybe the best answer is simply: Hollywood.
What kind of supermarket sells pet birds and walkie-talkies?
In real life … probably none? After a perilous journey rolling over “speed bumps” of human corpses, the gang arrives at a supermarket — Fields Market, to be precise, which is a real place. If you visited the actual location in West Hills, Calif., you would find pet food in the pets section and batteries in the “electronics section,” but no live animals and no high-end walkie-talkies. (We called and asked; the staffer who answered laughed.) The filmmakers stocked those items themselves.
Where are all the pets?
Speaking of pets, a majority of United States households have at least one of them, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. So what happened to all the cats and dogs? Or, for that matter, the wild game and livestock? Early in the movie, a single horse appears on the news — after that, we see mostly birds. Are animals also vulnerable?
In the book, we get some answers. The birds aren’t entirely immune, it seems — we’re told about migrating flocks that kill themselves in midair. As for other animals, the group uses seeing-eye dogs in the book, and one of them gets infected. (“It sounded like Victor had chewed through his own leg.”) In the final scene of the movie, we’re shown some seeing-eye dogs at the blind school. Presumably, they have been adequately sheltered from the monsters, just like the seeing humans who are there.
How did those birds in the box survive?
The birds in the Bird Box — a shoe box with holes punched in it — appear to be scarlet-chested parakeets, a rare Australian breed that likes to be housed in bigger cages or aviaries … or, of course, allowed to fly free. So how did these birds survive going overboard on a cold river? The short answer is: They shouldn’t have. Unless Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) held it over her head as she swam to shore — also unlikely for a small child in the rapids — that shoe box would have been a death trap.
Brianna Latino of the Bird Shop in Roseville, Calif., which sells exotic birds, confirmed that the birds looked like scarlet-chested parakeets — and probably should have died a few times over. “They surely wouldn’t survive in a freezer,” she said.
Why didn’t Malorie and the kids just hop out of the boat and follow the river on foot once they heard the rapids coming?
Such a good question.
How is that remote compound so well stocked?
The community at Janet Tucker School for the Blind seems close to self-sufficient in the film, and in the book, it is. The members farm fields of potatoes, squash, and berries. They’ve captured a cow for milk, a few chickens for eggs and two goats, and they hope to find more to build a little farm. They have a rainwater purification system. They also have a whole medical team (which hopefully includes therapists to help process everyone’s trauma).
Apparently, the fastest way to get there is the river. Did Dr. Lapham (Parminder Nagra) take a blindfolded rowboat trip, too? That much remains a mystery.