Spoilers from the start for Bird Box, both the book and the film, and Malorie, the book.
Josh Malerman’s Bird Box was published in 2014 to much acclaim and the 2018 Netflix movie based on it caused quite a stir. In it, Sandra Bullock’s Malorie must try to shepherd two children to safety in a world populated by creatures it is fatal to look at.
The movie was a great success for Netflix, and now a sequel has been published, titled Malorie which followers her character and the two children 12 years after the end of Bird Box. This follow up reveals plenty more info about the world of Bird Box. Here’s how it answers your pressing questions.
What are the creatures in Bird Box?
Well that we don’t know specifically but we do know more about them. In the 12 years since the end of Bird Box, which is the time when the majority of Malorie is set, the creatures haven’t gone anywhere and in fact they have increased in number meaning living among them is an absolute necessity. If you look at them, you go mad and kills yourself and maybe others. Looking through a video camera doesn’t help and nor does looking at them in the mirror. Early on there are rumours of people who have learned to live with the creatures but these are unsubstantiated.
Are the creatures malevolent?
They are in the movie, or they seem to be, trying to coax the kids to remove their blindfolds, for example, and appearing as manifestations of a person’s worst nightmares. But in the books, no, they seem to be just so very ‘other’ that humans can’t cope with looking at them but aren’t deliberately mean.
Is there any way you can look at the creatures?
By the end of Malorie, it looks like the answer to that is ‘yes’. Tom has invented some glasses using a two way mirror and he speculates that the reason that humans lose their minds when they see the creatures is because they are too far beyond our comprehension. Through a two way mirror, he posits, a creature would be forced to observe and therefore contemplate itself, which is something a human might be able to relate to. When he arrives in India River he proposes this idea to Athena Hantz, who’s a fan and gets two volunteers to try it out, who don’t die (why would anyone volunteer if every subsequent test has resulted in death?!). Tom then tries it and also doesn’t die.
While we sort of get the idea of looking at the creatures through a massive two way mirror where they can see themselves, but not you, this does feel like slightly dodgy logic. What if the creature is looking in a different direction, and therefore not contemplating themself? Do the creatures even have eyes, as we know them? Can they even look in any direction? It’s possible that Gary (more on him in a bit) has been able to report some of that info back, but we don’t get any of that in the book.
Also: two way mirror turned into magic glasses… Isn’t that just mirrored sunglasses? Cops and mountain bikers would have been fine all along.
Is anyone immune to the creatures?
In the film there’s the suggestion that the only people who are immune are people who were mad already. In the book immunity isn’t so clear. Some people claim to be able to live alongside the creatures with their eyes open – Athena for example – but it’s clear that’s not true, the camp outskirts are littered with the dead who have tried other tests to see if they can look. Gary on the other hand does appear to be immune, though exactly what kind of ‘insanity’ that involves isn’t clear. It’s certainly not the case that any one with any kind of mental health issue isn’t affected and it’s not clear whether it has anything to do with chemical imbalances and actual medical conditions or whether it’s more likely related to something like psychopathy – which would make a kind of sense. If you were unable to empathise in your everyday life it might not be such a big problem to encounter something you can’t comprend.
However, we also discover that Olympia is immune, and she believes this is because she was just being born when her mother saw the creatures and died.
There are also questions around whether Olympia and Tom’s generation and the ones that follow will develop immunity from simply having only ever known a world with the creatures in, meaning that it’s easier for them to comprehend the creatures than the people who were used to a world without them. Like how kids can all use the internet from birth now.
Can the creatures send you mad by touch?
Nope. That was an assumption made after the incident at the school for the blind. But that only actually occurred because Annette had faked blindness. Olympic knows this because she is immune and saw the creatures and Annette’s encounter.
What happened to Gary after Bird Box?
In Bird Box the fanatical Gary opens all the doors and windows in the shared house causing the death of the residents including Olympia who is just in the process of giving birth. He then leaves without a blindfold never to be seen again. We learn in Malorie that he’s been stalking Malorie and the kids as they grow up. We also learn he’s a regular on the train so obviously travels between India River and other places, including Malorie’s. In Malorie he seduces Tom and convinces him to come to India River but also throws Malorie off the train and into a Safer Room (a massive hole in the ground) which she is rescued from by Olympia. After Tom has proved his invention works, Malorie shoots Gary with a crossbow and kills him.
Are Malorie’s parents alive?
Yes. Well they were. The census taker seems to have been legit and spoken to Malorie’s folks some time back. They had then relocated to India River believing it to be a progressive community which would have attracted Malorie – or certainly the Malorie of old that they knew before the creatures came. Unfortunately by the time Malorie makes it to the community her mother has passed, her father is still alive though and they reunite, and he meets his Grandchildren for the first time.
What’s next for the world?
Well that could be something for Bird Box 3 to explore. But by the end of Malorie we have a society that has found a way to look at the creatures without going mad, and given they can’t send you loopy via touch, it bodes pretty well for the future. While the two way mirror solution is how humans begin to break the spell it would seem logical that once our brains are used to seeing the creatures this device will no longer be necessary – almost like a vaccine. What that suggests then, is that the biggest threat going forward will be the anti-vaxers of the new world, who would still lose their minds at the site of the creatures and cause harm, or alternatively do a ‘Gary’ and keep some semblance of sanity but use it to deliberate sabotage those who live by the ‘fold.
Is Bird Box 2 the movie coming to Netflix?
Looks like it. Josh Malerman has said that the production is in development, though because of the whole pandemic thing it’s not clear what stage of development it is at. Malerman confirmed that Netflix does definitely have an appetite for the project though, and we’re not surprised after the success of the original.