Bird Box became Netflix’s biggest hit to date due to its compelling storyline and the unique concept it presented. The movie revolves around a mysterious force that causes anyone who sees it to take their own life. Sebastian and his young daughter, Anna, must navigate the desolate streets of Barcelona to survive. Along the way, they form an uneasy alliance with other survivors, but as they approach what seems like a safe haven, a sinister threat emerges that is even more dangerous than the unseen creatures.
The spin-off, Bird Box: Barcelona, introduces us to Sebastian, a beleaguered father, after the creatures arrive and induce suicide in those who dare to look at them. The film takes an intriguing approach by shifting Sebastian’s mission from mere survival to something more troubling. While the execution may not always be flawless and some explanations may feel clumsy, the writer-director duo, Alex and David Pastor, show their dedication to bringing a different dimension to the spin-off. Though certain elements are retained from the original, such as Sebastian finding himself with a group of strangers, the dynamic is different, with a stronger focus on how some perceive the visitors as a blessing rather than a curse – a theme that was less prominent in the first movie.
Bird Box: Barcelona admirably and believably delves into the danger of religious fervor, but its exploration of the horror genre’s buzzword du jour – trauma – may not be as clear-eyed. Words like grief and loss are thrown around without careful consideration of their impact.
In comparison to the first movie, Bird Box: Barcelona feels darker and sometimes even more entertaining. The Pastors manage to create horrifyingly efficient set pieces, such as a gnarly mass subway suicide scene that stands out. However, the absence of Sandra Bullock and her reliable supporting cast might make the film feel somewhat inconsequential. Additionally, certain visual effects used to announce the creatures’ presence come across as cheap and ineffective, with some angelic effects looking out of place. Moreover, the film falls into the sequel curse of overexplaining certain aspects, including a character’s monologue about the quantum mechanics behind the monsters, which doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Despite its flaws, Bird Box: Barcelona transforms what could have been a simple retread into a narrative that offers unexpected twists, albeit to a moderate extent. Considering the world many had forgotten about, the film manages to be better than expected. It opens up possibilities for more spin-offs, but Netflix should exercise caution and possibly consider closing this particular box sooner rather than later.