- Key takeaways:
- The Bird Box monsters remain unseen throughout the franchise, adding to their scary and mysterious nature.
- The creatures may be manifestations of the Earth itself, fighting back to save the planet.
- The monsters have the ability to tailor fear to each victim and can tap into their memories.
One thing that really makes the Bird Box monster so scary is that the movie franchise never shows it. H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Call of Cthulhu contains the phrase, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” It is one of the many reasons the creative team behind the movies decided to leave the Bird Box monsters up to viewers’ imaginations. Bird Box became one of Netflix’s most intriguing horror films, in which the world is overrun by creatures who drive people to take their own lives by simply looking at them.
Not showing the creatures meant that very little was known about them except by eagle-eyed viewers and those who had read the book. The second movie in the Bird Box franchise took the action to Barcelona and had more people in the movie see the monsters. However, keeping the gimmick from the first movie and not letting viewers see the Bird Box creatures still remained in place. The second movie also kept the tactic of the first by keeping the Bird Box monsters’ origins unrevealed. The bizarre, weird, and conflicting aspects of the creatures continue to leave viewers just as perplexed as ever, but repeated viewings add some clues for viewers.
The Bird Box Monsters Need “Renfields”
Throughout the franchise, the Bird Box monsters only had the ability to drive people to death if they looked at them. More and more people began to either put on blindfolds or purposefully blind themselves to find protection. Because of this, the Bird Box creatures have proven to be powerless against humanity. However, much like Dracula needed his servant Renfield to bring him sustenance during times of weakness, these monsters also needed their Reinfelds.
However, the question that remains after Barcelona is what it takes to find the Renfields. There was one thought that it was the mentally weak or those with chemical imbalances in the brain who the Bird Box monsters could easily manipulate. However, that was not always true in Barcelona. Sebastian was a good father who wanted to protect his child at all costs. The priest was mostly sane, but he was a zealot. At the end of Barcelona, a doctor suggested that some people were predisposed to see the Bird Box creatures and survive – and these are the Renfields of the story.
They Are Here To Possibly Save The Planet
There have been many movies about the planet fighting back against humans who have systematically destroyed it over the years. In M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, the plotline saw people start to take their own lives suddenly and without warning. The reasoning in the end was that Mother Nature took matters into her own hands and eliminated humans to level out the playing field. It received terrible reviews, but the Bird Box monsters could be the same thing.
In this case, the deaths were caused by actual creatures and not just by a mysterious ailment. This made it look a lot more like a real horror series and people took it more seriously. However, there have been many people in both Bird Box movies who said these creatures are there for a purpose and eliminating the majority of humans was important to save the planet. Could these Bird Box creatures be manifestations from the Earth itself, fighting back to save itself?
There Are Many Of Them
Paying attention to the dialogue in Bird Box, characters refer to the creature in the plural form, explaining that “they” are out there and that if they don’t look at “them,” they’ll be safe. Despite the fact that to look at them is to be driven to take their own lives, characters ascertain that there are many of the Bird Box monsters lurking based on multiple victims being possessed at the same time.
It’s never stated specifically how they coordinate their attacks or communicate with one another (or if they do at all) but given that their “magic” comes from auditory and visual hallucinations, their movements may be based on that. As Bird Box: Barcelona showed, these Bird Box creatures are all over the world.
They Tailor Fear To Each Victim
A frequent occurrence in Bird Box involves victims communicating with the dead in a personalized fear-based delusion. For example, Douglas’s wife walks towards a burning car, mentioning seeing her mother who died ten years prior. Similarly, Malorie is haunted by other Bird Box characters like Douglas and Tom towards the end of the film. This was an attempt by the creatures to drive her mad from guilt and sorrow and if she didn’t snap out of it, she would’ve taken her own life as the other victims before her. It is clear that whatever these Bird Box monsters do, they can tap into the actual memories of their victims.
They Can Kill The Birds
In the Bird Box novel, the appearance of the Bird Box creatures is referred to as “The Problem” and as survivors begin to discover ways to avoid them, they stumble upon the use of birds. Tom hangs Malorie’s birds outside the house to act as lookouts and natural alarms, since they can sense The Problem’s presence. The birds are not immune to the creatures, however, and end up going insane and killing each other.
Later in the novel when Malorie, Boy, and Girl have almost reached their final destination, hundreds of birds are affected by the creatures and kill themselves, dropping out of the sky in a deluge of carcasses. By contrast in the film, the birds only react to the creatures’ proximity and don’t go crazy. This might be a difference between the Bird Box movie and the book, but at least in the book, the Bird Box monsters’ powers can seemingly affect more than just humans.
They May Not Be A Threat At All
The creatures’ motivations are never explained in the film but what they are and why they’re on Earth are somewhat delved into by Charlie, the grocery store clerk turned Nostradamus. He believes that they might be Biblical demons that represent judgment and the End of Days. This was also built on in Bird Box: Barcelona when one victim sees the Bird Box creatures as angels there to act as a shepherd and lead people off this doomed planet to the afterlife.
Though there’s nothing concrete proving this or otherwise, it’s hard not to discount such a possibility. It’s also just as likely they’re extraterrestrial beings that have come into contact with humans without any knowledge of how their presence affects them. The fact that they can’t enter enclosed spaces suggests they may even be projections from a spacecraft that cannot pass through physical structures. This means
They Represent Several Themes
While neither the novel nor the film shows the creatures in a physical form, the novel insinuates that the interactions of the characters provide hints as to what themes the creatures may embody. Depending on who’s being asked, the Bird Box creatures could represent depression at the state of the world, the stigma of being mentally ill, the difficulties faced in parenthood, racism, or even a physical manifestation of misinformation — such as on social media — that’s used to manipulate people into doing horrible things either to themselves or others.
This was also built on in Bird Box: Barcelona, as it actually shows what some of the victims saw. One spoke to someone who she called her “love” before walking into a rotating tire. Another saw his daughter who told him that he needed to help lead people to the afterlife. At least one sect of humanity believes these are angels.
Self-Inflicted Blindness Might Stop Them
When Malorie and her children reach the school for the visually impaired near the end of Bird Box, they’re welcomed into a sanctuary where the visually impaired and sighted have come together as a community to survive. No one suggests that Malorie or her children need to be visually impaired to remain there, which differs from the novel.
The novel’s version of this survivors’ bastion reveals that many of the inhabitants have forcibly blinded themselves, ensuring they’ll never be able to look upon the creatures. Malorie doesn’t choose to do this but in the novel, her children actually grow up visually impaired, having never known sight from birth. It is interesting because it seems that the Bird Box monsters have to have people look at them and have no power over the visually impaired.
Some People See Them As Beautiful
Some victims are captivated by the creatures to the extent that they impress on whomever else they encounter the urgency of removing their blindfolds. In a twisted way, they want nothing more than for others to witness the creature’s splendor.
They see neither hallucinations of the dead nor some monstrous entity, but something worthy of reverence and admiration. Though the stricken individuals don’t explain exactly how the creatures appear to them, the implication is that they’re beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. This also could tie into the thought that these are angels, and only the chosen can see them.
They Can Shapeshift
When Gary explains that the creatures aren’t harmful to certain people, whether diagnosed with schizophrenia or a mental illness, it’s assumed that this is because they were institutionalized and “touched” in some manner by the creatures themselves. Gary made drawings of the creatures, further implying that he’s seen them up close and personal. Looking carefully at his drawings, it appears that no two sketches are alike.
The creatures seem to be malleable enough to shapeshift at will — though these are not cute sci-fi creatures — and appear to the “touched” individuals in different ways. On the other hand, just as people who see them before dying see different things, the Bird Box creatures can possibly appear to those who are immune to their powers in different ways, also based on their mind’s state at the time.
They’re Inspired By Lovecraftian Horrors
H.P. Lovecraft, one of the grandfathers of sci-fi and horror, appears to have had some influence on the Bird Box creatures if the drawings Gary created are any indication. Lovecraft was known for his dark eldritch horrors, particularly the Great Old Ones, who were considered too terrifying for the human mind to comprehend.
Gary’s most prominent sketch depicts a creature with tentacles sprouting out of its face, greatly reminiscent of the countenance of one of the most infamous Lovecraftian monsters, Cthulhu, the sight of which drove people mad. This ties in perfectly with the Bird Box monsters’ powers and could be an even more important connection than originally suspected.
They Take Inspiration From Ancient Deities
The character of Charlie has the responsibility of unloading a lot of exposition to the rest of the cast in a short amount of time, and it’s easy to not hear everything he says. As he relates the Bird Box monsters to demons, devils, and other supernatural forces, he also explains that they could be similar to deities like Aka Manah.
Aka Manah is a Zoroastrian demon (taken from the religion founded by Zoroaster in ancient Persia in the 6th century BC) that meant (in the Avestan language) “Evil Purpose”, “Evil Intention”, and even “Evil Thinking.” This is particularly compelling considering the Bird Box monsters drive their victims to perform evil tasks, like taking their own lives or the lives of others.
Some People Can See Them Without Being Driven To Take Their Own Life
Well-crafted horror movies rely on sound internal logic, because if that’s broken then the circumstances in the movie no longer make sense on their own merit. Most of the people who see the Bird Box monsters are driven to take their own lives, but then every once in a while that’s not the case.
Gary, for instance, saw them before and managed to feign ignorance and innocence on the matter when in the company of other survivors. Somehow, he became an aid to the Bird Box creatures and helped facilitate their takeover of the house he –and the other survivors– had barricaded themselves in. It doesn’t make sense that Gary could be “infected” for so long before turning on everyone.
They Can Speak To Their Victims
While it’s the general consensus that the Bird Box monsters can’t speak any language humans would understand, that’s not entirely true. Listening closely to the audio when specific characters become possessed (such as Jessica and Tom), fans will be able to hear faint whispers of a voice guiding them.
This voice isn’t the monster’s voice, but the voice of someone the victim has lost, or in the case of Jessica and Tom, someone they would hate to lose. Both Jessica and Tom would hate to lose Malorie, yet it’s her voice they can faintly hear speaking to them shortly before their deaths (despite the fact that she’s still alive). Once again, this is the Bird Box creatures pulling fear from their victim’s minds and this is a way that they can communicate with the people they target.
They May Have Always Been On Earth
The survivors of the Bird Box monster’s attacks, whether from guilt or curiosity, spend their time trying to discern where the monsters came from and why. The more faithful among them wonder if humans are being punished for sins (such as Charlie’s discussion of the End of Days), or have somehow brought the monsters upon themselves.
It’s important to note that no characters saw the monsters arrive on Earth in some sort of spacecraft at the beginning of the movie, or watched them materialize out of a portal from another dimension. It’s possible, then, that they were always on Earth, but had to be manifested by its inhabitants and their collective eons of psychological trauma.
Despite Not Being Seen They Have A Tangible Presence
It’s vital for characters to be blind in some way if they want to survive among the creatures, which over time heightens their other senses to determine where threats are coming from. Despite the creatures never being seen, they do have certain peculiar physical characteristics that the Bird Box cast learns of.
For instance, they’re large enough to set off motion sensors on vehicles, yet seem immune to being captured on cameras. They also don’t seem to be able to physically open doors, which seems like an odd barrier to obstruct them given their otherworldly abilities. With all this, it seems that the Bird Box monsters’ physiology is present, although it is not always consistent.
Their Original Appearance Was Laughable
While the physical representation of the Bird Box creatures is never seen, an ultimately unused practical mock-up of what Malorie would see in the shapeshifter was made. Bird Box never even gives a glimpse of the creatures, though effects artist Howard Berger revealed the Bird Box monster on Instagram. Needless to say, its absence in the final cut was a good thing.
Each creature would look different depending on the person looking at it, and Malorie’s would have resembled a snake-like, scaly lizard baby-thing because of her anxieties as a mother and a possible fear of lizards (or something). Sandra Bullock filmed a climactic scene involving the puppet but found it too ridiculous and kept laughing at it. Wisely, any actual view of the Bird Box monster was excised from the final cut, giving the movie a unique sense of dread.