Bird Box, a Netflix original released in 2018 and featuring Sandra Bullock, presents a world haunted by an unseen entity that poses a dire threat to humanity. Those who catch even a glimpse of this entity succumb to its influence, leading them to take their own lives. The film delves into profound themes centered around human emotions and the inner demons that reside within us all. The entity, in a sense, amplifies these inner conflicts to a heightened degree, driving individuals to the brink of self-destruction.
Amidst the chaos, a group of people emerges who, for reasons we are not yet aware of, remain immune to the entity’s powers. However, they mistakenly perceive the entity as a supernatural being deserving of worship. Within this group, an individual named Gary stands out. Unlike the others, Gary could walk outside without the need for blindfolds, seemingly unaffected by the sinister force. In a disturbing turn, Gary takes it upon himself to offer up fellow humans as sacrifices to the entity. The film leaves us questioning his motives and what drives him to carry out such gruesome acts.
Bird Box: Barcelona, a spinoff film starring Mario Casas, Georgina Campbell, and Diego Calva, introduces the concept of the “seers,” individuals who possess immunity to the haunting entity and play a significant role in the story. Interestingly, these seers have now become the secondary antagonists of the film, forming a sinister group that worships the mysterious and terrifying force.
The film begins by focusing on Sebastian, who is one of the “seers” gifted with immunity. The reasons behind Sebastian’s immunity remain unknown, but his unique condition shields him from the entity’s harmful effects. Throughout the narrative, Sebastian assumes the role of feeding human souls to the entity, mirroring the actions of Gary from the original film. However, as the story progresses, Sebastian undergoes a compelling character development. He begins to question his own beliefs and confront the faith he has placed in this supernatural force. The introspection his mind went through prompts him to reevaluate his role in the group and ultimately leads him to break free from the constraints of blind faith. Sebastian’s journey unfolds as he deals with the consequences of his actions and seeks a path that becomes more rational. But, then, why did the seers become a significant threat to mankind in this film? Why were they driven to kill people rather than help people survive the harmful force?
Throughout human history, fear has been an integral part of our existence, as H.P. Lovecraft astutely observed, stating that fear is the oldest and most powerful emotion of mankind. In the franchise Bird Box, the overarching theme revolves around the fear of the unknown. Both films present protagonists who are in a state of profound shock upon discovering the horrifying existence of such a supernatural force that transcends their wildest imaginations.
In Bird Box, the protagonist Malory maintains a scientific and rational mindset, which prevents her from falling for the allure of worshiping the supernatural entity which is terrorizing humanity. Her logical thinking and grounded approach enable her to confront the impending danger posed by the entity. However, in Bird Box: Barcelona, the leading protagonist, Sebastian, lacks the same level of rationality. Fear clouds his judgment as he struggles to choose between right and wrong. Although the film does not delve deeply into Sebastian’s background, it is apparent that he is a devout believer, seeking solace and guidance from Jesus during times of crisis. When Sebastian encounters the Pastor, who also worships Jesus, he is unable to shake the Pastor’s assertion that the hunting entity is an angelic being descending from heaven.
If we talk about the mystery surrounding this supernatural being, we can say in both films, the haunting entity is depicted as an invisible force that manipulates the human mind, targeting emotions such as guilt, trauma, and grief. It takes advantage of these emotions by presenting the forms and voices of loved ones, causing the humans to harm themselves in an attempt to escape their pain. However, a new theory emerges in the spinoff film, presented by Octavio while they are fleeing from the entity.
According to Octavio’s theory, the force haunting them is actually a quantum being that interacts with a fluctuating field, allowing it to assume control over an entire state or location. This quantum being can easily take on the form of a demonic structure, which appears as a haunting presence to those who perceive it. However, while some individuals see it as a demon, others perceive it as an alien. If the monstrous entity is an alien force or some form of biological construct, the immunity developed by the seers can be attributed to the significance of their immune system, which is as common as human’s inbuilt immune system working against the foreign threats in our body. This concept would require further explanation within the context of the film.
The motives behind Padre Esteban’s fanatical allegiance to the entity remain unclear. It can be surmised that he perceives this unimaginable and powerful entity as an inherent part of nature, something beyond the capability of ordinary humans to defeat. As the entity proves its dominance as the most formidable presence on Earth, Esteban believes it deserves worship, drawing a parallel to how primitive cavemen worshiped natural elements such as water, air, and thunder. Despite witnessing the advancements of technology, medical science, and research, Esteban regresses to a mindset similar to those of early cavemen, perceiving anything more powerful than humans as godlike. Additionally, Esteban’s immunity as a seer, the inability to see the entity like most others can, entices him further into the supposed pact he has made with the Devil. He sees himself as the chosen one tasked with fulfilling the entity’s bidding. Similarly, Sebastian, upon realizing his inability to see the entity, never entertains the possibility of it being because of a strong immune system. Instead, he believes that seers are destined to save humanity by sending their souls to ascend to heaven. While the film dives into the theme of fear of the unknown, it also showcases how different characters respond to this fear. While some rely on rationality and scientific thinking, others succumb to religious beliefs and perceive the entity as a deity-like being.
While the Pastor and his zealous followers remained steadfast in their belief that they should eradicate humanity to appease the entity, Sebastian’s faith began to waver. Throughout history, religious conflicts and fanaticism have caused wars and immense suffering. Some individuals blindly adhere to their religious factions, while others approach the concept of religion with a rational mindset. Sebastian, who embodied kindness, generosity, and a little bit of rationality somewhere ingrained in his mindset, gradually cleared his mind and recognized the difference between himself and the malevolent and destructive force. Eventually, Sebastian’s rational thinking led him to align himself with humanity, vowing to stop harming others and instead rescue them from threats caused by the seers, guiding them toward safety.
The mystery surrounding this immunity built in the seers may find answers in subsequent installments. The film’s concluding scene hints at laboratory researchers testing and searching for specific chemical markers or epigenetic alterations within the seers’ bodies that could potentially serve as antibodies against the entity. However, even in this final scene, a sense of foreboding is established, generating anticipation that the powerful entity may eventually breach the confines of the safe haven. Probably in the next installment on Netflix, the looming danger will intensify. Why do the seers remain immune to the entity’s deadly influence? Does an existing pact bind them, or is there a scientific explanation underlying their unique protection? Until these questions are resolved, Bird Box: Barcelona creates a sense of confusion and ambiguity surrounding the plot.