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What If Bird Box Actually Happened?

VO: Noah Baum WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey

We all have days where we just don’t want to leave the house. Netflix’s movie “Bird Box” shows us that maybe we were right to stay in our PJs. Based on Josh Malerman’s post-apocalyptic novel of the same name, the film follows a group of survivors in a world where mysterious “creatures” are causing mass suicides. See them, and you’re a goner. How would this play out in real life?

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Script written by Nick Roffey

What If Bird Box Actually Happened?


We all have days where we just don’t want to leave the house. Netflix’s movie “Bird Box” shows us that maybe we were right to stay in our PJs. Based on Josh Malerman’s post-apocalyptic novel of the same name, the film follows a group of survivors in a world where mysterious “creatures” are causing mass suicides. See them, and you’re a goner. How would this play out in real life?

In Malerman’s novel, mass panic sets in fast. A handful of murder-suicides in Russia, Alaska, and Canada, and people all the way down in Michigan are hiding indoors. Of course, in the real world, murders, suicides, and even murder-suicides, happen ALL the time. As in the movie adaptation, chaos would only really break out once reports became widespread, and local.

At first, the link between suicides and sight might not be obvious. Malerman has CNN report that the victims “all saw something”, but it’s not clear what this is based on, since some cases don’t seem to involve witnesses. In the movie, survivors see the horrified stares of victims first-hand, and are provided with convenient exposition about demonic entities and our “worst fears”; but in real life, many of the initial survivors might witness only the bloody aftermath . . . until of course it was too late.

The spread of information about the “creatures”, and in fact our overall chances of survival, would depend in large part on our communication networks . . . although you might want to avoid that Instagram livestream, just in case. In the source material, media communications continue for months, which would allow us to coordinate survival strategies. In the screen version however, the presence of the “creatures” seems to disrupt communication networks, and almost everyone is dead - in which case we’d see electrical grids fail within days.

Let’s assume the worst case scenario, and that we’re totally isolated. Our first task, after blocking the windows, would be to blindfold up, and gather supplies. Our neighbor’s homes would be the closest sources for food and medicine; for the same reason though, we’d need to defend our own homes, necessitating barricades and weapons.

Given high enough survivor rates, looting and violence would increase as resources became scarce, with smashed windows and opened doors proving especially dangerous. Grocery stores and pharmacies in particular would become high priority targets. Even if a centralized government and military survived in some form, and martial law were declared, most areas would be reduced to anarchy.

And there’d be more survivors than you’d think. More than 21 million people in the US report visual impairments, and about a million are legally blind - a huge advantage if the world went all “Bird Box” on us. In fact, blinding ourselves, and our children, using household chemicals, or makeshift surgical techniques, might be our best bet for long-term survival. In a world of the blind, canes might become common, as would string and fishing line for the outdoors. With a little tinkering, repurposed proximity sensors could prove invaluable. Some of us might even become proficient at human echolocation, which believe it or not is a real thing.

For the still-sighted, forays outside would have to remain short, to minimize the risk of blindfold mishaps. Plus, it would just be damn scary out there, what with the vengeful supernatural entities and all . . . oh and the insane people who’ve become the “creatures’” dedicated disciples. Birds might become man’s new best friend, used as portable alarm systems. A pop-up tent would also come in handy - although not something we’d fancy spending the night in.

Long-distance travel would be virtually impossible. Hey, maybe we could just squint a lot, or peek between our fingers . . . would that work? It would be a hell of a risk, and again, we’d be a lot better off just staying home. On the upside, we’d finally have reason to stay in our PJs 24/7!

All that time indoors however would put us at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, weakening our bones and muscles, and worsening our odds when it came to cancer, heart disease, and even depression. Throw in a limited diet, and most survivors would probably look a lot more like Viggo Mortensen in “The Road” than Trevante Rhodes in “Bird Box”. If you have biceps this massive five years into the apocalypse, then you’re doing pretty well for yourself!

Of course, since we’d be cooped up inside most of the time, exercise would be a good way to stave off cabin fever. If you like a good book, or board games, well, guess what, you’re in paradise . . . sort of.

The global population would be decimated. But there would still be hope for the human race. Eventually, survivors would find each other, and form communities, and new means of communication. We could rebuild, creating a new civilization designed with sightlessness in mind - and learning to live with our demons.





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