You can’t trust your eyes in this horror film from Netflix.
Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock) is taking two children, Boy and Girl (Julian Edwards and Vivien Lyra Blair), on a trip down a river while blindfolded. The movie then flashes back to show what happened to the world, which is beset by monsters that kill you if you see them. Anything else would probably be a spoiler.
Let’s start with this: While Sandra Bullock’s character might seem a little unbelievable at times, her performance is epic by horror movie standards. While some of the writing may not be the best dialogue she’s been given, she does manage to keep the tension up when it needs to be up and to develop the character when it needs to be developed. Even when the film starts to get ridiculous, having her as the focus keeps it serious and somewhat relatable. What I’m saying is, this is more The Blind Side than All About Steve as far as her range goes. I didn’t particularly like her character, and I don’t think you’re supposed to, but she manages to make it seem believable.
The supporting cast, too, is amazing, ranging from B.D. Wong’s kind portrayal of Greg to Trevante Rhodes’s soldier Tom to John Malkovich’s Douglas being the biggest jerk you can sympathize with. It might even be more appropriate to say that it’s an ensemble cast for the flashback, but the focal character is almost always Malorie, so I guess that makes the rest supporting. In a lot of movies it’s interesting to see how different personalities deal with the apocalypse and this one is much the same, but with better actors. It’s also interesting to see how the group adapts to a world in which they have to avoid seeing outside, something that I haven’t seen presented in exactly this way before.
The concept of the monsters is solid. They don’t eat you. They don’t burn you. In fact, they never touch you. But if you see them, you kill yourself. It’s never stated precisely what you see, and it’s different for everyone, but if you pay attention to what everyone says in response to seeing them, you can kind of piece it together.
The downside to the movie is that it doesn’t exactly mesh as well as some horror films and it isn’t quite as exciting as others. For large portions of the movie, it’s just people talking while trapped within a building together hiding, like many zombie films or other such films, but none of the scenes really stand out as well as some from those movies. Malorie has an arc that should have worked really well, but due to many of the inter-cut scenes it loses a lot of its power. Unlike films like The Babadook or It Follows, the monster really doesn’t work to supplement her growth, either. Another problem is that, as good as the ensemble is, there are just a lot of people in this movie and some of them are massively underwritten. Even with good portrayals, there are still moments where I said “shit, I forgot that character existed.” For a film that has many instances of the cast being extremely clever about how to deal with their situation, we also have a lot of moments where they’re so stupid about it that you just kind of want them to die. Also, the monsters can’t get inside any buildings, which is weird and never explained.
Overall, it’s a pretty good film. Is it deserving of being the most-viewed Netflix film? No, but it’s worth watching if you’re into horror or good performances.
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