People Are Warning Each Other About Mental Health Triggers in Netflix's 'Bird Box'
Warning: This piece contains spoilers about the Netflix movie “Bird Box.”
If you’re sensitive to suicide, especially graphic depictions of suicide, you may want to skip Netflix’s latest thriller, “Bird Box.” The movie, which stars Sandra Bullock, centers around an unseen entity that drives mass suicides around the world.
The movie is an adaptation of a book by Josh Malerman. The film received mixed critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, earning a 67 percent rating. Though the movie was generally given good reviews, people are criticizing the movie’s depiction of suicide. The film’s R rating is briefly shown before the movie begins and states it includes violence and bloody images. It does not mention the graphic nature of the suicides depicted.
In the movie, Malorie (Bullock) attempts to make it to safety with her son and a girl whose mother died by suicide. The three travel by boat on a river while wearing blindfolds to protect themselves.
The film shifts between present day and five years ago when the phenomenon began. Multiple characters die by suicide in various and equally graphic ways. People try to protect themselves by wearing blindfolds, covering windows or squeezing their eyes shut, however, some people are able to see the suicide-causing presence without dying by suicide.
The people who survive go on to coerce others to take their blindfolds off. They say people should open their eyes to see “it” because it’s beautiful. Viewers aren’t given a full idea of what people “see,” but one woman who dies calls out to her deceased mom as if she sees her.
Given the suicide-heavy nature of the film, people on Twitter were quick to warn each other that the movie might be triggering.
.@netflix #BirdBox is a feature length #mentalhealthcrisis The premise that an unknown force was sparking #suicide was a ???? Yet I persisted. The main character trying to keep herself and 2 kids alive sent my #anxiety skyward. 1/2 way in, I said enough. Not worth it. Avoid
— Jonathan Smith (@graphicsmith) December 24, 2018
FYI: I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t have details, but it seems there may be some suicide-related content in Netflix’s new release, Bird Box. https://t.co/2QMfL7HlwU
— Live Through This (@lttphoto) December 22, 2018
PSA: do not watch the new movie on Netflix called “Bird Box” with Sandra Bullock if you are easily triggered with anything with suicide!
— unwanted (@biitttchhhh) December 23, 2018
Couple of warnings about #BirdBox (spoilers ahead)
1. It has a "mentally ill people are evil" subplot
2. The actress who plays Willowdean is in it and she doesn't have a happy ending
3. Lots of on-screen suicide
4. Emotional abuse as "necessary for survival" subplot
— Tori Kiersten Frost (@FrostFireSky) December 22, 2018
if u suffer from anxiety or have any kind of suicidal thoughts DO NOT WATCH bird box. the movie is basically about mass suicide and it's very disturbing i couldn't even make it halfway through
— ???????????????? ♡ (@rashounom) December 24, 2018
At the end of the movie, Malorie and the children make it to a safe place, which ends up being a school for the blind. Blind people were cast in the movie, but only as extras. According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, less than 2 percent of characters on TV have a disability despite 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. living with a disability. When disabled roles are included, they typically go to able-bodied actors.
It’s OK to skip this movie if you’re sensitive to depictions of suicide. Your mental health is more important than what’s trending on Netflix. If you’re still interested in watching “Bird Box,” it may be a good idea to watch it with someone you trust. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741 if you need extra support.
The Mighty reached out to Netflix for comment and has yet to hear back.
Photo via Netflix/Saeed Adyani