'Bird Box' Ending Explained: What Happens at End of Netflix Movie

Motherhood, in all its complexity, symbolizes everything in Bird Box, the horror Netflix film that has snagged 45 million block-busting account views over the otherwise traditional, heartwarming or bland Santa-filled holiday streaming fare.

In a dystopian film stuffed with symbolism – a river, blindfolds, human vision, chirping birds, literal and figurative blindness – actress Sandra Bullock pulls off what many struggling mothers experience – enduring tough times, heartbreak and loss to eventually emerge into the light.

It's the surprise ending that catches viewers off guard, then has them reveling in mega-relief. It involves redemption from an unexpected source. But first things first.

Bullock, playing rough-around-the-edges Malorie, displays her best take-control, bad-assed self in a horror film that makes you jumpy for a long time afterward. She charges straight ahead, ill-prepared to reflect and let down her guard, after her sister is suddenly, dramatically killed by an unknown force suddenly screaming down upon people in the streets and causing them to walk head-on into suicide.

Utter chaos descends upon the planet as the sisters drive away from a doctor's appointment for Malorie, less than thrilled with her advanced single-hood pregnancy.

The psychological thriller delivers a new perspective of universal motherhood contrary to the stereotypical patriarchal view that leans heavily toward rainbows, lollipops and aw-shucks "Isn't he/she cute?" Tickle, tickle.

Unseen, but emanating in powerful performances by a crazed cast and the always-game instigator John Malkovich, a sinister, dark, dangerous presence awaits anyone who steps outside, into the light. Malorie and other stranger-survivors are in full crisis mode. They lock themselves in a home and fight off most outsiders who come knocking frantically at their door.

The awful trick is to determine who is infected with the evil force and who is not. It is terrifying. Shotgun in hand, the very pregnant Malorie and an eventual love interest lead the group, mostly on instinct.

What gives her hope are a pair of birds she carries and nurtures – first in a cage, then a box. They foreshadow the eventual freedom at the end of the film, when she and her children navigate a dangerous river while blindfolded, hoping to find a purported safe haven from the oppressive monsters.

In what can be a powerful metaphor for the post-natal horror some women experience after giving birth, Malorie most likely suffers from depression and the lingering after-effects of childbirth. Sure, her kids are ages five or six, but the unseen horror afflicting all represents motherhood of a different kind – the never-talked-about psychological pressures women are forced to tamp down and survive, somehow, especially in earlier generations.

Director Susanne Bier defends the movie as matching crisis-filled, dystopian times right now, as Variety reports.

"When I read the script I felt there was the potential to portray a different picture of motherhood than that which is usually portrayed," said Bier. "I guess I've always felt that motherhood is mainly defined by men and for many hundreds of years is automatically thought of as being soft, caring, naturally nurturing, calm," she says. "There are a lot of things that are part of our idealized vision of motherhood, but I always thought it was much more complex, much more ferocious … I think that's what Sandra gives it."

Malorie goes into full-on defense mode – even at the cost of depriving her children of a normal, happy childhood. She doesn't even bother to name the children, instead calling them "Girl" and "Boy."

But when an all-encompassing, evil force hovering in every corner outside, who has time for typical childhood games?

No dreaming allowed, either for her young ones. At one point, Malorie throws a protective mother fit when a fellow survivor shares stories of wonder, of trees, of birds, of imagination, with the children. Play is a luxury; Bird Box is only for the survival of the fittest.

What some viewers may see as a well-done horror movie that involves infected zombie-like creatures after looking directly at the unnamed demons outside, many women will recognize the fear, the repressed confusion and anger experienced in the throes of post-partum malaise.

If you've read this far, then this is a spoiler alert:

The ending involves sanctuary from a school for the blind, a Garden of Eden of sorts others and Malorie have safely discovered. Suddenly, all is right in the world. Blind adults greet them and even her obstetrician shows up.

Not lost is the irony that the blind leading the blind shall eventually help the afflicted see the light. The boxed birds and their treed cohorts lead the trio to safety by the sound of their chirps. They represent freedom – from death, pain and the start of a new life – and a happy, real childhood for Girl and Boy. You can make life what you will, now that the monsters have been conquered.

In the end, Malorie even names her children, gifting them namesakes and identity.

Bier breaks down Malorie's motives and her growth in Variety:

"She realizes that by being as adamantly tough with [the children] she is ignoring something that they need, which is [the permission] to dream – she has closed up any dreams, and she has done this to herself as well. That was a mistake and she is kind of saying sorry for that."

‘Bird Box’ breaks a Netflix record with 45M+ people watching in its first week https://t.co/Nteudhw29f

— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) December 29, 2018