This is an apocalyptic sci-fi horror picture that made me think it’s the type of movie that M. Night Shyamalan would’ve done if he was given the script for A Quiet Place; but instead of the sense of hearing, this film focuses on sight. You see (no pun intended), if you look at this mysterious thing, you immediately kill yourself. That might be by jumping off a building, running into traffic, or the most common in this film — bashing your head into whatever is nearest.
Luckily this was a fun ride down the river, with lots of flashbacks so you’re not just watching Sandra Bullock and two kids blindfolded, wondering if someone is going to go all Deliverance on them. Although it did feel a little too familiar, and the contrivances started to pile up. Yet watching such a solid cast helped it all work.
Sarah Paulson plays a concerned sister to Bullock, who is a pregnant artist.
Danielle MacDonald (Patti Cake$, Dumplin’) also plays a pregnant woman, who has a military husband that’s been deployed.
One of my favorites, Australian actress Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Widows), is in the cast, as well as rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Rel Howery (who’s basically doing his Get Out character again), B.D. Wong (Mr. Robot), Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), and the best in the cast — John Malkovich. It was such a thrill to hear the vile stuff spewing out of his mouth in this movie. It reminded me of how great he was in Burn After Reading, constantly drinking and criticizing those around him. When there’s some mysterious fog that’s causing everyone on Earth to kill themselves, you need someone like Malkovich to hold the shotgun, and not let anyone else into the house. Especially after he witnesses his wife trying to save someone (Bullock) and get killed. The fact that the script has him being humorous and not just obnoxious, was a nice touch.
The screenplay was written by Eric Heisserer, who just like he did with Arrival, left a few things a bit under developed.
It’s all based on a book by Josh Malerman. Since I haven’t read that novel, I’m not sure if it also has such familiar themes. You can’t stop thinking about The Happening (M. Night), The Mist, and a few other films. Even the powerful ending, reminded me of The Book of Eli.
It’s always fun when new technology is used in movies. In this, it has Wong’s character looking on his computer to see the cameras he has outside his house, to try and figure out what this mysterious thing is that’s causing mass suicides. Just to be on the safe side, they tie him to the chair, so he couldn’t kill himself if he wanted to.
There’s another scene where they go to the grocery store where Lil Rel’s character works when he’s not writing about conspiracy theories. Since they can’t look out the window, they paint them black and rely on the GPS to get them there (curbs be damned!).
There’s also a great plot device when we realize that the birds often alert the humans to when danger is near. So when they’re on the river heading out to safety, if you hear them start squawking and carrying on in that bird box, it’s the equivalent of hearing a banjo on the Chattooga River to Aintry (is that really my second Deliverance reference in the same review?).
This was all done by the Oscar-winning Danish Director Susanne Bier (Brothers, In a Better World), and although it’s interesting enough, it would’ve been nice to not have such a predictable film. A few less characters would’ve been better, too. Especially since you never really grow attached to any of them. The atmosphere is certainly creepy, and there’s solid cinematography and plenty of creepy sounds.
Rhodes and Bullock have some nice chemistry together as a couple trying to survive, and possibly start a romance amid all the chaos.
I’d almost say this movie is worth it just for Malkovich’s drunken rants. Overall, I was a tad disappointed, but never bored. My wife liked it a lot more than I did, which surprised me.
I’d give it 2 ½ stars out of 5. She’d give it 3 ½ stars.
It was released in select theatres last week, but is now available on Netflix if you’re so inclined.