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What the Bird Box creatures look like finally revealed

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, aren't a fan of spooky films, or recently had access to a Netflix account that isn't your own cut off, you've probably seen or at least heard of Bird Box. The streaming site's original post-apocalyptic thriller flick has taken social media and the horror movie-loving world by storm, sparking countless internet memes centered on Sandra Bullock's character and even a Twitter "challenge" that saw fans blind-fold themselves and try to complete everyday tasks just as the characters in the film do. 

What really snagged viewers' attention more than anything else, though, were the creatures in the film — monsters that drive people to commit suicide and manipulate "survivors" into convincing others to kill themselves. Bird Box never once showed the creatures in physical form, only adding to the mystery behind them and boosting fans' intrigue. 

Now, thanks to creature designer and sculptor Andy Bergholtz and special effects studio SFX Atlas, we finally know what the Bird Box monsters look like — and what we might have seen on screen had plans for the movie gone differently. 

Bergholtz, credited as the special effects makeup lead on Bird Box, took to Instagram over the weekend to share a carousel of photos that reveal the design that director Susanne Bier originally intended to use. 

According to Bergholtz, who included an in-depth caption detailing the logic behind the Bird Box monsters' appearance, no two people see the creatures in the same way; their physicality changes from person to person. The design featured in the photos, however, is the creature that Bergholtz and the Bird Box special effects team created for Bullock's character, Malorie, at Los Angeles-based makeup effects studio KNB EFX Group. A baby-faced monster with a bulbous, vein-covered head, swollen ears, no teeth, and a snake-like body meant to be created using CGI, the creature is what Malorie would have seen in a nightmarish scene that was ultimately scrapped from the final cut of Bird Box.

"We had the unique pleasure of designing a creepy makeup for the film, although the scene ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor. Keep in mind, the fatal 'vision' that each character saw would most likely be different for each person (you'll understand if you've seen the film), and this makeup appeared in a cut 'dream/nightmare sequence' with Sandra Bullock's character," Bergholtz explained. 

He continued, "Considering her pregnant state and emotional arc thru the movie, the producers felt Sandra's nightmare would have something to do with a twisted, demonic baby creature attacking her (that's as much as I could gather about the context of the scene anyway). I sculpted at least 3 or 4 variations on the design before it was approved, which began as a more aggressive, monstery look and was revised to be a bit more subtle in the end. I also had the pleasure of painting the finished prosthetics before sending them to set, to be worn and performed by the one and only Dirk Rogers @thehalloweendirk, applied by the great @proutyfx [Academy Award-nominated makeup effects artist Stephen Prouty]."

Bergholtz also wrote, "It's funny, I read an interview recently where Bullock described the creature as a 'snake-like, green man with a horrific baby face.' Many folks have speculated what the creature may have looked like, but they fail to realize the 'snake-like green man' portion was simply Dirk in a spandex green-screen suit. Everything from the neck down was intended to be a giant CGI creature/body added later."

Prior to Bergholtz's reveal, SFX Atlas also headed to Instagram and uploaded a collage snap of Bergholtz's design, plus Prouty applying the pre-painted prosthetics to Rogers. 

"The unseen creature from Bird Box created at @knb_efx that was sadly cut from the final film. Andy Bergholtz @andy_bergholtz sculpted and pre-painted the prosthetics. Stephen Prouty @proutyfx went to set and applied the makeup on actor Dirk Rogers @thehalloweendirk," the caption reads. 

Howard Berger, the co-owner of KNB EFX Group where the designs for the Bird Box creatures were crafted, added in his own Instagram post that's seemingly since been deleted, ”It's always a bit disappointing when so much effort goes into something that ends up in the cutting room floor, but I get it and it's always what is best for the final product." 

Anyone who takes one look at these photos will agree that the designs, sculpts, and prosthetics are A) unsettling and B) exceptionally well-made. But after finally seeing what the Bird Box monsters were supposed to look like, many fans have have argued that the decision to keep the creatures' physical form out of the film was for the best.

"I feel like I'm missing something here. How is seeing this supposed to make masses of people want to commit suicide? I don't understand the meaning behind making the monster look this way," one Instagram user wrote in the comments of SFX Atlas' post. Another added, "I think cutting it was the right thing to do."

Yet another user commented, "Yeah… not right for this movie at ALL. Looks like it was recycled from another flick with a totally different concept."

Others pointed out the fact that Josh Malerman's 2014 novel Bird Box, upon which the film is based, never actually describes the monsters — so a half-man, half-baby-looking thing with a slithering body and misshapen ears is certainly an interesting interpretation. 

This brings us to the elephant in the room: Why didn't Bird Box ever show the monsters? 

As it turns out, actress Bullock had the same reaction to the creature that many fans did: she couldn't stop herself from laughing when filming the nightmare sequence, which isn't exactly the kind of response a filmmaker wants to get out of a meant-to-be-traumatic scene. Director Bier soon realized that it would be wise to remove that moment from the movie and leave the monsters' appearance out of the film in order to retain a sense of tension and dread. 

"It so easily becomes funny. We actually shot that [scene] and spent a lot of energy on [it], 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, 'S***, that's a different film,'" Bier explained in a recent interview with Bloody Disgusting. "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."

All things considered, it's clear that everyone involved in Bird Box — from Bier to Bullock to Bergholtz himself — is happy with the choice to keep the monsters' physical form out of Bird Box. As Bergholtz wrote in his post, "I actually really liked the movie and think it was better off NOT showing the makeup. Kudos to the director for sticking to her guns on that one."

Like the creature design varies from what's featured (or isn't, in this case) in the source material, so too does the ending of Bird Box. Both the Malerman's novel and the Netflix movie end with Malorie and the two children she cares for, Girl and Boy, finally finding safety when they reach an old school for the blind. But in the book, the trio discovers that the majority of people living there weren't born blind, nor did they go blind later in life. In actuality, most have deliberately blinded themselves in order to survive. (After all, you can't be killed by what you can't see.) 

By wrapping up on a slightly lighter and more positive note, by not fully exploring the force behind the creatures, and by not showing them on camera, Bird Box the movie left the door open for a sequel that could go deeper into the in-movie world. If Netflix gives the potential project the go-ahead, maybe viewers will actually get to see the monsters in motion — and will be more universally spooked by what ends up being shown.