Netflix’s 2018 release, Bird Box, featuring Sandra Bullock as the lead actor, intrigued us with its thrilling portrayal of an apocalyptic world haunted by an unseen monster. This survival thriller revolves around Malorie Hayes (Sandra Bullock), navigating through a treacherous landscape where keeping her eyes closed meant avoiding certain death. With a decent execution, Bird Box blended fear, adrenaline, and the exploration of grief and trauma. However, the subsequent spinoff film, Bird Box: Barcelona, seemed a bit unnecessary to me. Although the film did bring innovation to certain aspects, it failed to provide a satisfying amount of explanation or thrill to the plot. Bird Box: Barcelona did not live up to expectations, and it failed to surpass the average quality of a typical survival film.
Plot Summary: What Happens In ‘Bird Box: Barcelona’?
The film began within the dimly lit confines of a skating rink, where Sebastian and his daughter Anna glided across the floor. Europe had already fallen victim to an apocalyptic catastrophe, leaving only a handful of survivors behind. A mysterious force, capable of manipulating individuals through their negative emotions and driving them to suicide, had taken hold of the world. As the mass suicides began, Sebastian tragically lost his wife. Focused on protecting Anna, he sought refuge within the rink. However, a group of blind people trespassed and attacked Sebastian, intending to steal food and supplies from him. After their departure, Sebastian and Anna, donning black eye coverings, went outside in the sunlight.
On the road, Sebastian encountered a band of fellow survivors and expressed his desire to join them. However, they had suspicions that Sebastian could pose a threat to their safety. Sebastian deceptively presented himself as a former construction engineer, claiming that he knew how to get a generator to provide light and indoor heating. Manipulating their trust, Sebastian managed to secure a place in the group. Within the group, Sebastian formed a connection with Liliana, a doctor who tended to his injuries. Among the survivors, he also encountered an individual who had self-inflicted stitches over his eyes. This person revealed that while most feared the malevolent entity, some remained unaffected and possessed the ability to roam around the city without the need for blindfolds. They were called the “seers.” However, those who were not immune to this threat became systematically targeted and killed by those seers who were seeking to dominate the world. Sebastian maintained a low profile, but during this time, Anna was conspicuously absent, suggesting that Sebastian had already lost his daughter to the insidious creature. Now, her spectral presence was everything to him.
The following morning, with everyone still asleep inside the bus, Sebastian seized an opportunity. He locked the driver’s compartment and started the engine. Despite Liliana’s attempts to stop him, he remained obstinate. Bursting forth from the shelter, Sebastian drove outside. However, his recklessness caused the bus to lurch forward, resulting in a devastating accident. The impact left everyone injured, with none of them having coverings over their eyes.
In the midst of the chaos, Sebastian once again encountered his daughter’s apparition. Anna commanded him to guide the injured individuals to open their eyes and witness the creature. Following Anna’s instructions, Sebastian led them to open their eyes one by one, exposing them to the blinding light emitted by the unseen entity. After witnessing the entity, or alien, which the film had never shown us, each of the individuals started killing themselves.
Unbeknownst to the others, Sebastian was a seer who was under the delusion that this entity was a divine being rescuing humanity by killing them. His delusions were so profound that he could even witness the dying victims transforming into angelic light and ascending to heaven as they succumbed to death. But the question remained: why was Sebastian trapped within this illusion, and what was the motive behind Anna’s evil instructions?
Why Was Sebastian Killing People? Was Anna’s Apparition Evil?
In a flashback to nine months prior, as Barcelona succumbed to the grasp of an unknown and unseen entity, people fled desperately for their lives. Among them, Sebastian found himself caught in turmoil while his wife warned him of the potential danger that loomed over their daughter, Anna. Acting swiftly, Sebastian retrieved Anna from her school, but tragedy struck as his wife lost her life in a devastating accident. Sebastian sought refuge in a church, where he encountered Esteban, the Pastor. Esteban believed that the entity was an angel, and its divine presence made it impossible for people to look at it. In order to prevent further suffering, Esteban suggested that humanity should be freed from the confines of life itself.
This notion profoundly affected Sebastian, despite his underlying concerns for his daughter’s well-being amidst the escalating deaths. Concealing themselves, Sebastian and Anna took shelter in a secluded location, striving to find happiness in whatever way they could. However, their peace was short-lived. One day, a group of seers led by the Pastor discovered their hiding place and took the father and daughter captive. Since Sebastian himself was a seer, he did not become their target. Tragically, the Pastor callously forced Anna to open her eyes, leading to her ultimate demise by suicide. Overwhelmed by heartbreak, Sebastian found himself haunted by Anna’s apparition, seemingly holding his hand. Sebastian wasn’t aware of this, but this apparition was another form of manipulation created by the entity. While Sebastian’s optical capacity remained intact, the entity had gained control over his mind, commanding him to kill others. He was convinced that following these instructions would allow him to reunite with Anna and his wife after his death.
Sebastian came across another group of survivors led by Rafa, accompanied by his dogs. The group consisted of Octavio, a delivery guy with a background in physics; Roberto and Isabel, a couple; Claire, an English psychiatrist; and Sofia, a young German girl who had gotten separated from her mother during their trip to Barcelona. Despite initial hesitation, Rafa allowed Sebastian to join their group, albeit with suspicions about his true nature.
Within the group, Sebastian found Sofia, who reminded him of Anna. Utilizing his multilingual skills, he conversed with Sofia in German to learn about her separation from her mother. Sofia mentioned hearing about a mountain castle, believed to be the safest place from the entity, and she sketched a picture of the castle and a cable car that led to it. Isabel deduced that Sofia was referring to Montjuic. The group agreed to venture towards Montjuic, as there, they would get a supply of food and safety within the castle’s fortified walls shielding them from the creature.
As they journeyed towards Montjuic, they were once again confronted by the entity, which took on the form of their lost loved ones. The apparitions began to distract the group, and Rafa lost his life in the process. Taking refuge in a dark shelter, Octavio shared his belief that the entity was a quantum being, existing within a fluctuating compound and capable of reading human emotions, particularly fear and grief.
However, during their time in the shelter, Anna’s manipulative influence over Sebastian leads him to open a window, resulting in Octavio’s demise. This time, Sebastian couldn’t see the light emanating from Octavio’s body, as at that point, Sebastian had already begun questioning his beliefs and the morality of his actions.
With only Roberto, Isabel, Claire, Sofia, and Sebastian remaining alive, they continued their journey through the city toward Montjuic. The group of seers pursued them relentlessly, resulting in the deaths of Roberto and Isabel. However, Sebastian managed to guide Claire and Sofia to a safe zone. During this time, Claire starts suspecting Sebastian’s true nature as one of the seers, thereby attempting to protect Sofia from Sebastian. However, as Anna’s persistent urging to remove Sofia’s blindfold weighed on Sebastian, he finally drew a line. He realized that his actions were wrong and that he was not truly helping people by leading them to their deaths. He resisted Anna’s influence, considering her to be an evil apparition created by the entity. Sebastian convinced Sofia and Claire that he meant no harm to them, vowing to protect them.
Did Sebastian Survive? What Happened To Claire And Sofia?
While Sofia and Claire once again placed their trust in Sebastian, their hideout came under attack by the Pastor and his followers. In the process of leading Sofia and Claire out of the building, Sebastian encountered an assailant whom he managed to kill. Escaping in a car, they made a direct path to Montjuic. However, Esteban and his followers relentlessly pursued them. Upon reaching the tower, Sebastian urged Claire to take Sofia and proceed while he held off Esteban. Despite a violent altercation, Sebastian successfully stopped Esteban from entering. Meanwhile, Claire led Sofia up the treacherous stairs to the control room.
Inside the control room, Claire discovered that the cable cars were not operational. In a clever move, she rang a large bell to create vibrations, luring the entity towards them. As the entity arrived, the surrounding environment began to tremble, including the cable cars. The entity desperately tried to entice Claire and Sofia by mimicking the voices of their loved ones. Nonetheless, Claire and Sofia managed to board one of the cable cars and safely make their way to the mountain castle.
Meanwhile, in the midst of a violent confrontation, Sebastian injured Esteban with an iron rod. However, Sebastian himself sustained injuries during the altercation. Both men succumbed to their wounds, but Sebastian found solace in knowing that he had successfully guided Claire and Sofia to safety before taking his final breath. Once Claire and Sofia reached the castle, Sofia reunited with her mother. Meanwhile, Claire was taken to a laboratory, where she underwent blood tests. Claire questioned the other researchers about the purpose of the tests. One of them explained that they had been attempting to find a chemical indicator, an epigenetic alteration, to identify the indications of trauma and precisely determine the emotions targeted by the entity. The goal was to develop an antibody that would provide immunity against the entity.
What Did The Ending Scene Signify?
In the final scene of the film, researchers were seen injecting the epigenetic antibody into rats and placing their cages inside a containment room. During this process, a seer, who appeared to be one of the experimental subjects, was lying in bed. Suddenly, a menacing growling sound emerged from the containment room that the seer desperately demanded to see. In the film, although it was not explicitly explained how the researchers managed to capture the entity, we can speculate on possible ways based on Octavio’s previous description. The entity was a quantum being, as described by Octavio, and exists in a state of superposition, meaning it can simultaneously occupy multiple states or locations. It is highly elusive and can phase through matter, making it difficult to capture using conventional means.
To capture the quantum being, the researchers likely employed advanced scientific methods and technologies, like quantum entanglement, quantum trapping and many more. The film concluded with this cliffhanger, leaving the audience uncertain about what would emerge from the rat cage. The ending scene potentially sets the stage for a sequel to Bird Box: Barcelona, where the adverse effects of the antibody could bring further peril to humanity. Nevertheless, I sincerely urge Netflix not to overexploit the franchise, as audiences are already weary of repetitive content. It is high time for Netflix to break free from the monotonous formula and offer something fresh, and another sequel to Bird Box: Barcelona will not provide that.