“When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.”
Spoiler Alert: Please watch the movie if you haven’t yet. I will be dropping some spoilers on this post. But I warn you, at the end of the movie you won’t trust your eyes again.
The movie starts with Malorie, a painter who has just been dumped by her boyfriend Ryan. He was only mentioned once in the movie and as the story goes, he abandoned her the moment she became pregnant. Making Malorie to withdraw from the outside world and drown in depression. She is unaware of the mass suicides going on in Russia. When her sister switches on the TV which probably hasn’t been on since she snapped, the force as it is called has spreed all the way from Siberia to Alaska and then California where the entire movie takes place.
Her fridge is empty, probably because she hasn’t been out of the house. Getting Malorie out of the house is like pulling a tooth. She hasn’t been talking to her mum and all communication is done through Jessica her sister.
Now to the monster. I know your question would be;
Where are they from?
Do they keep coming?
Do they reproduce?
What do they look like?
How come they have been there for a long time?
Can they be defeated?
Actually these are mine too. But what we should actually ask is if they are real after all.
Charlie believes its a spirit creature or demon, he read on the internet takes the shape of our greatest fear. It is known by different names in different religion and culture, but is actually the same thing. The closest we got to a graphical representation of it, is Gary’s drawing. This could entirely be from his head. But the directors wanted each drawing to depict the monsters in different cultures. Those who were not affected are people who have already overcome their greatest fear by being insane or very violent.
There were plans to show the monster and even scenes shot with the monster. But it never made the final cut. From an interview with the star of the movie Sandra Bullock, the monster looks like a snake with a baby shaped face. But the directors and producers didn’t like the idea at the end.
In Susanne Bier ( the director) own word
“Is often what we don’t see that scares us the most”
The movie gets its name from a cardboard box Malories keeps three birds, that are able to detect the presence of the force.
But metaphorically it is her own heart locked away as she tries to survive and battle with depression and inability to connect. The movie is a story of a woman learning to love after a heart break. She is unable to connect even with her child or lover. Not until she feels alone for the first time after she is separated from the kids in a fall. She apologizes to the kids as she realizes they have always feared her. This kids don’t even call her by her mum, but Malorie.
The movie is not just focused on her story.
It is a metaphor for motherhood and whats going on socially in the world today. The world is getting to that point when we aren’t seeing people anymore, as we now prefer being insulated. Even now the world is more connected than ever, the rate of depression keeps increasing. Loneliness is not incidental, but people’s inability to connect. All of Malorie’s painting depict this. The first painting was of a group of people who were together but still feeling lonely. They all showed people in the dark.
Our greatest Monster is the one inside of us. A creature manifesting our greatest sadness, fear and loss. And only by confronting this inner demons can we over come and survive.