Based on Josh Malerman’s novel of the same title, Netflix released the survival thriller Bird Box in 2018, featuring Sandra Bullock in the lead role. This film explored the themes of complexities in human nature, grief and trauma acting as an evil force, and the relentless pursuit of survival. By portraying a nightmarish apocalypse, the film effectively highlights the inner demons faced by the protagonist. However, the spinoff movie Bird Box: Barcelona, which maintains a strong connection with its predecessor, introduced a touch of innovation to the storyline.
The core of Bird Box: Barcelona revolves around Sebastian (Mario Casas), a survivor who embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery, questioning whether he is destined to save or destroy humanity. The spinoff film presented an intriguing premise by depicting the global impact of the unseen and unknown entity in the film. The plot unfolded in the European setting of Barcelona, showcasing the worldwide repercussions of an apocalyptic entity almost wiping out humanity. The film highlighted how individuals from diverse cultures get affected by the entity and how each has a different perspective about it. These creative decisions by the filmmakers were commendable; however, they faltered in the execution of the storyline.
While Bird Box: Barcelona revolves around the same unseen entities and survival while blindfolded, establishing the plot’s connection to the original film Bird Box, it introduces a fresh narrative with whole new characters hailing from various cultural backgrounds. The establishment of the plot and the characters’ presence in the story felt plausible, setting high expectation for the film. But in contrast to the original Bird Box, which explored the themes of isolation and Mallory’s underlying sadness even before the apocalypse hit, the spinoff focused solely on the turmoil faced by Sebastian and the other characters in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Unfortunately, this approach left little room for the characters’ past histories to be unveiled before the audience.
Insufficient character development hindered our ability to truly understand and connect with Sebastian and the other characters. The film missed valuable opportunities to shed light on their backgrounds and motivations, making it difficult for us to build that connection with the plot. The abrupt emotional breakdown of the characters felt detached and didn’t resonate with viewers. Even the protagonist’s background was shrouded in mystery, leaving the audience without a substantial foundation to make a meaningful connection about why and how the character became the “chosen” one.
Bird Box: Barcelona leans more towards being a typical survival film than delving deeper into the existence and origin of the entity and its impact on humanity. We have gotten familiar with the storylines from A Quiet Place, Extinction, The Devil Below, and The Last of Us. Like A Quiet Place, both Bird Box and its spinoff Bird Box: Barcelona focus on the constant threat of an unseen entity, where silence and caution are paramount for survival. Both films explore the need to adapt and find ways to protect oneself from a lethal force that preys on the human senses.
Similarly, Extinction presents a world overrun by a dangerous species, forcing survivors to decipher the creatures’ motivations. Bird Box: Barcelona adopts a similar premise and finds ways to explain the logic behind the monster, but it fails to satisfy the audience because of its ambiguity. The highly acclaimed video game series and its subsequent adaptation by HBO, The Last of Us, also share thematic similarities with the spinoff film. Both narratives explore post-apocalyptic worlds as survivors band together and go on dangerous adventures. We may find a mixture of all of these in Bird Box: Barcelona, which displays that the film offers nothing new but a generic plot of survival that the audience has seen many times before. The movie falls short in providing a comprehensive exploration of the monster, and instead, the focus remains primarily on the characters’ survival and their attempts to evade the seers.
Similar to Gary in the original Bird Box, the spinoff Bird Box: Barcelona introduced a secondary antagonist known as the “seers,” who proved to be even more treacherous than the monsters. This innovative development added an intriguing layer of mystery and darkened the premise. However, the film failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for why the seers were not able to see the alien entity and were determined to attack ordinary people who were struggling to survive. The ending of the spinoff was particularly underwhelming and felt rushed, lacking a convincing resolution. Nevertheless, the film managed to leave a cliffhanger at the very end, leaving us with a set of questions and the potential for a more perilous sequel.
In my personal opinion, the Bird Box franchise did not require any more sequels to repeatedly depict the same concept. It is high time for Netflix to find a fresh approach to storytelling. However, this opinion may be in vain, as Netflix often prioritizes sequels based on securing a large audience and catering to fans rather than focusing on innovative storytelling or presentation.
Bird Box: Barcelona can still be considered a watchable film, but its numerous flaws and loosely structured screenplay fall short of expectations. The actors’ performances in Bird Box: Barcelona were truly exceptional. Mario Casas, in the lead role of Sebastian, brought the character to life with his remarkable portrayal, which was intriguing and added depth to the film. Additionally, Georgina Campbell and Diego Calva, although not in central roles, delivered standout performances that left a lasting impression on the audience. Their talent and on-screen presence shone through, even with limited screen time. However, it is important to note that those expecting Calva to have a more significant presence might be disappointed, as the film does not give him as much prominence as anticipated.
In conclusion, despite certain flaws, the film manages to thrive with exceptional performances and a cliffhanger that already sets the stage to lure more audiences to the franchise. As the blindfolded journey continues, viewers eagerly await the possibility of future installments that may shed further light on this mysterious creature that plagued the world of Bird Box.