It is often the case that horror films are scariest at the very beginning, before the monster is full revealed.
Films such as The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are testament to how no putrid puppetry or roaring CGI creation could ever be quite as nightmarish as the human imagination.
A shadowy figure in the corner of the room, a faint whisper in an empty house; such things feed into our most private anxieties, providing a very unique sense of terror.
Whether ashen-faced ghoul or sulphur breathing demon, when the monster is finally pushed into full focus, the film often risks losing a sense of tension, with the audience disconnecting at the final, bloody hurdle.
In Netflix’s hit horror Bird Box, the creatures are left completely unseen; with their diabolical impact on the world being the only trace of their presence.
And it was a good job the filmmakers ensured viewers were blindfolded to the creatures’ appearance, as they sound far more funny than frightening.
As reported by Bloody Disgusting, screenwriter Eric Heisserer said:
There was a time when one of the producers was like, ‘No, you have to see something at some point’ and forced me to write essentially a nightmare sequence where Malorie experiences one in that house,
It was snake-like, and I was like, ‘I don’t want to see it when it first happens. Just bring it into the room. We’ll shoot the scene.’
I turn and he’s like this [growling at me.] It’s making me laugh. It was just a long fat baby.
Although I am somewhat intimidated by babies, this is seriously not how I imagined the creature to look at all, and would have most definitely replaced my sense of dread with snorts of laughter.
And Malorie (Sandra Bullock) herself reportedly remained thoroughly un-scared by her encounter with the monster, which she described as being ‘a green man with a horrific baby face’.
Director Susanne Bier echoed this amusement at the ‘long fat baby’, telling Bloody Disgusting:
It so easily becomes funny. We actually shot that and spent a lot of energy on, but every time I saw it, I was like this is not going to be tense. It’s just going to be funny.
At first, Sandy was like, ‘I don’t want to see it’ because she thought it was scary. Then it was like, ‘Don’t show it to me because [I’ll laugh].’ Every time I did it, I was like, ‘Shit, that’s a different film’.
Bier proceeded to explain how – scary or not – showing the malevolent beings would have been the wrong decision:
They can all laugh about it now that it’s not in the film. We’re going to deliver it to Saturday Night Live, Whatever those beings are, they tap into your deepest fear.
Everybody’s deepest fear is going to be different from the other person. I think to suddenly take upon a concrete shape in order to illustrate that becomes weak.
Where the conceit is really strong, then trying to illustrate it is kind of almost meaningless. So it would have been the wrong decision.
Although this snakey baby creature was quite rightly cut from the movie, it has reappeared as a hilarious custom-made toy.
Is this how you imagined the Bird Box monster to look?
Bird Box has been available to stream via Netflix as of December 21, 2018.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.