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Top 10 Differences Between Bird Box Movie & Book

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Laura Keating
A good adaptation knows what to leave in and what to change, but it’s always fun to see the differences. For this list, we’ll be taking our blindfolds off to look at the differences between Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel “Bird Box” and Netflix’s 2018 adaptation. Spoilers for both the book and the movie ahead. Our list includes The House of Survivors, Malorie's Sister, Tom, The Birds, The Fall of the House and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Differences Between Bird Box Movie and Book.
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Top 10 Differences Between Bird Box Movie and Book


A good adaptation knows what to leave in and what to change, but it’s always fun to see the differences. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Differences Between Bird Box Movie and Book.

For this list, we’ll be taking our blindfolds off to look at the differences between Josh Malerman’s 2014 novel “Bird Box” and Netflix’s 2018 adaptation. Spoilers for both the book and the movie ahead.

#10: The House of Survivors


In the book, Malorie remains in hiding with her sister for three months before meeting other survivors. When her sister succumbs to the “creatures”, Malorie drives to a house that she knows is taking in survivors, thanks to an ad in the local paper. With the apocalypse well under way, the house already has established rules - such as using broomsticks to make sure that “creatures” don’t slip inside with survivors. There’s also a dog, Victor, who becomes Malorie’s much needed support buddy. In the adaptation, Malorie and a random group are thrown together at the same time. They’re have to figure out what works and what doesn’t together, and don’t have the same team dynamic.

#9: Character Changes


Not every character made it from print to screen - and others were made up for the movie. Malorie’s sister “Shannon” made the cut as “Jessica”, and there’s still an Olympia, Gary, and Tom. Felix and Cheryl were also adapted, but housemates Don and Lucy were axed. Instead, we got to meet John Malkovich’s Douglas, a new character, although his cynicism vaguely recalls Don’s. Lucy, Charlie, and Greg are also exclusive to the adaptation, with Greg’s fate inspired by a character mentioned but never actually encountered in the novel. Overall however, it’s the survivors’ dynamic that changes the most, as in the book they spend around half a year together, rather than several weeks.

#8: Malorie's Sister


As well as a new name, Malorie’s sister also got a different timeline and final fate for the movie. In the novel, “Shannon” is an early believer that the strange incidents being reported should be taken seriously. Her attention to the story at last convinces Malorie that they should cover the windows and try to ride it out. She dies however when she glimpses the outside through one of the window coverings. In the adaptation, on the other hand, her time with Malorie during the crisis is much briefer. Driving Malorie back from a check-up at the hospital as all hell breaks loose, she sees something horrible and quickly ends her life.

#7: Tom


Book Tom is the clear leader of the house, always coming up with new ideas and planning for the future. While he and Malorie have implied interest in one another, it never gets physical. In contrast, movie Tom enters the house at the same time as Malorie, and while he’s clearly very brave, he’s just another member of the group. Unlike in the novel, he survives Gary’s plan, kills Gary, and helps Malorie raise the kids for the next five years, in which time they become a couple. His death on screen is a heroic sacrifice, and Malorie’s final prompt to start the journey downriver.

#6: "The Problem" vs. Monsters


In the Malerman’s novel, a lot of time is dedicated to different theories about what’s going on: is it atmospheric, a gas, a warp in reality, or monsters of some kind? Furthermore, during the event, known as “The Problem”, people don’t only kill themselves, but also viciously attack anyone nearby. The movie however establishes early on that there are creatures of some kind running around, and that something about them is so horrible that people are driven to suicide, with almost no control over when and how.

#5: The Timeline


In the book, Malorie and Shannon live in hiding together as The Problem engulfs the world. Additionally, Malorie is much earlier along in her pregnancy. She seeks out Tom’s house when she’s a little over three months pregnant, and is the only survivor from the original group when Gary infiltrates the house, then disappears, never to be seen again. She remains there for four years raising the children alone. In the film, of course, Malorie is very pregnant to begin with, and only in the house for what seems like several weeks. She raises the children with Tom for another five years . . . until more crazies like Gary make their appearances.

#4: The Birds


Surprisingly, for such a titular feature, the birds in the book are less central. Tom finds the birds while out scouting the neighborhood and leaves them outside the door as a rudimentary way to detect if someone - or something - is approaching the house. In the movie, it’s Malorie who finds the birds, in a grocery store, and she brings them with her when she takes to the river. By releasing them when she and the children arrive at the safety of the School for the Blind, they become a more overt symbol of hope.

#3: Malorie


“Bird Box’s” heroine has a much larger character arc in the book. In the beginning, she’s riddled with doubt, both about her pregnancy and the crisis occurring around her. She’s less self-reliant and often defers to Tom in matters of survival. However, although she starts out meeker, we also get to watch her increasing resilience as she becomes stronger and more confident. The Malorie of the movie, on the other hand, seems a lot tougher from the get-go. She doesn’t take BS from anyone, and is able to take charge and make decisions quickly when needed.

#2: The Fall of the House


Gary’s rampage through the house is terrifying enough in the movie. But it’s arguably even more horrifying in the book. As Don, who’s become Gary’s protégé, sabotages the house, Malorie and Olympia go into labor in the attic, and can only listen in horror as their friends turn on one another. This includes Tom, who dies with everyone else in the bloodbath downstairs. Olympia still jumps out the window, but then hangs by her own umbilical cord. Most horribly of all, there’s someone else besides Gary in the room with Malorie - a “creature”, which has entered the house, and who she feels right next to her face before it slinks away, with Gary on its heels.

#1: The Ending


In the book, Malorie hones the childrens’ sense of hearing for four years. Upon their arrival at the school for the blind, they learn that many there have gouged out their eyes - and Malorie almost leaves, until Rick explains that it’s not mandatory. Overcome with emotion, Malorie cries, and the book’s last pages are bittersweet. In the adaptation, Malorie, Tom, and the kids live as normally as they can until Tom’s death, and their journey to the school is action-packed. A madman tries to tear off their blindfolds, and the “creatures”, using a new strategy, almost get them all on the home stretch. But at the safehaven, Malorie seems hopeful for the first time in years.
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