Bird Box is one of the most-streamed Netflix original films. And that is completely fair. This review explores the psychology of the thrilling Netflix film.
There are many different depictions of the end-of-days. Some people fear annihilation from a stronger species, like aliens or zombies. Others would define the end as something mythical with a happy ending after all. But one of the most interesting ways to see the end of everything is as a consequence of ourselves. And that is exactly how this Netflix original film proposes the end times. We reap what we sow.
Bird Box was one of the most-streamed and popular Netflix original films for 2018. This post-apocalyptic film was a revolution. Rather than imagine the end coming from an outside force, it shows us a more introspective end of the world. The film has many psychological elements to highlight and review.
An Apocalyptic Way to Understand Fears
Let’s start with the fact that this is a film that brightly used the audience’s imagination and point of view. The Netflix original film didn’t ever show us the monster or the thing that was ending humanity. It is left completely open in the film. And that is an attractive and realistic element because it is the main characteristic of fears. Just like the film portrayed, our fears are generated from within. We all have a different object or subject of fear. And we all experience and react to fear and anxiety in a personal way.
For me, Bird Box is the best way to understand fears and anxiety. One of the most relevant topics in psychology ever. Fears combine the reception and the perception of a stimulus. That is why Netflix had a marvelous portrait of fears in the film. Because reception and perception are separate psychological processes.
Fears are based on common objects, subjects, or situations we receive. But depending on our perception (which is influenced by thoughts formed from knowledge and experience) those common things can be subjects or objects of fear. That is something that makes Bird Box a more attractive film. Because not having the monster explicit in the film, makes us imagine our own fears and reflect it on the film. That is a psychological effect Netflix knew how to use. They gave us a stimulus that our unconscious caught.
Bird Box also highlights the varying reactions to fear. Because of perception, an internal and personal topic, none of us react to fears in the same way. There are common characteristics in the reaction. But each one of us, based on a combination of biological and psychological elements, will react individually.
We see this in Bird Box, because even though the film does feature a common response, suicide, not every character opts to commit suicide. Along with that, each one of us has our own reaction time when we perceive a fear stimulus, and that is also portrayed in the film. If you look carefully each one of the characters spends more or less time reacting to the fear stimulus.
Panic Attacks vs Monster Attacks
We all avoid facing our fears if given the chance. I would say that is the main psychological element that Netflix’s Bird Box portrays. Because in the film, avoiding the monster or creature means staying alive. And just Malorie (Sandra Bullock) we spend our lives avoiding our fears or the “monster.” Like Malorie, we believe not facing our fears will keep us safe.
But the truth is that sometimes it is impossible to avoid our fears. Because, as I said before, fears are reactions to fear objects, and those fear objects can be common things. Something we can again compare to the movie “monster.” In the film, almost no one could escape from the monster. No matter how much we try to avoid our fears, sometime we will have to face them. And facing our fears can be perfectly represented by living during the end of the world.
Have you ever heard about panic attacks? Well, almost all of us experience a panic attack at least once in a lifetime. Because we all have fears and one of the most common reactions to facing fear is panic. I have experienced many panic attacks in my life. And if you ask me, what does it feel like to face my fears, I would have a single sentence for that. Experiencing a panic attack feels like living at the end of the world. So, what we see in Netflix’s Bird Box is a perfect analogy.
When you are having a panic attack, there is a combination of many biological and psychological reactions. The entire experience of facing fears is, just as we can see on the Netflix film, a painful experience to have and to watch. And two of the most common thoughts that come into your mind at that moment are death and madness.
Because it really feels like everything is ending, and we are losing everything. That is something we clearly see in Bird Box every time each character faces a fear. First is despair, and then death. Obviously, in real life, it is not that literal, but you really feel that way while you are having a panic attack. And as in the film, you lose every type of control, so hurting yourself or others can be a consequence, depending on the person.
It is clear that fiction films are really entertaining. But Bird Box is a great example of how a fantastical film can have a relatable and grounded message. For me, this was a Netflix film that showed many psychological analogies perfectly. Bird Box could be an amazing tool for any patient or mental health specialist to understand the intense topic of fears.
Now, I invite you to stream it if you haven’t, or re-stream it and think about this perspective. And as always I invite you to stay tuned.