Terror Heads to Spain in Apocalyptic Sequel Bird Box: Barcelona (2023)
Title: Bird Box: Barcelona
First Non-Festival Release: July 14, 2023 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: David Pastor, Àlex Pastor
Writer: Àlex Pastor, David Pastor
Runtime: 112 Minutes
Starring: Mario Casas, Georgina Campbell, Naila Schuberth
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Terrifying creatures have taken over the world. The sight alone is deadly, prompting humans to end their own lives or drive them into madness. Among those navigating this apocalypse is Sebastián (Mario Casas), an engineer who is struggling against his inner demons. He eventually joins a group that promises safety and refuge against the monsters, but that salvation he seeks is shattered by shocking revelations.
Fun follow up to the 2018 hit, Bird Box Barcelona adds enough twists to the story to stay engaging and tense.
There’s no doubt that the original Bird Box was a cultural phenomenon when it came out in 2018 despite not really capturing critic or audience love to match. With five years to distance itself from the original, Bird Box Barcelona gives audiences a slice of calamity outside the U.S. for another perspective. Mimicking the original’s double narrative that shows the present and past to showcase character development, Bird Box Barcelonacontinues the same general formula to moderate success.
As an apocalyptic horror adventure, Bird Box Barcelona leans into its grander scale compared to the more intimate and claustrophobic source material. The first Bird Box followed its group of survivors living in a single home together and several years later when they make an escape for sanctuary. This entry allows the operation to zoom out in scale with movement across all of Barcelona. Emotional depth is traded for sturdier action sequences. Neither approach is wrong but it is always nice to see a film attempt something different from the source material.
Flipping the script on one of the key plot points from the original, Bird Box: Barcelona explores the point of view of the seers with mixed results. Sebastián’s journey as a survivor turned seer is intertwined with the film’s present-day narrative. Even though the audience quickly learns of Sebastián’s condition, the threads take time to connect, instead we watch as he delivers other survivors to the creatures through deception and treachery. Through his POV, Bird Box Barcelona gives viewers a better understanding of what seers experience after laying eyes on the creatures and the psychological nature of their mission.
Sebastián is guided by the specter of Anna, his daughter who was killed by the creatures many months ago. In his latest group that he’s ingratiated himself into, however, a young girl named Sofia helps to breakdown the hold the creature have over him. Her reminiscence to his daughter in spirit gives him a real foil to the false depiction of Anna in his head, leading to discordance. His internal struggle throughout the film reveals that the seers do have the ability to change through intense scrutiny over their impulsions and that humans can unlock the secret to survival with their cooperation. While the film borrows heavily from the first Bird Box, this sequel shows that there is plenty of lore to explore in this universe.
Relying on its cast to propel the story forward, Bird Box Barcelona makes up for its uneven characterization. Maio Casas makes for a great leading man. His energy and charisma make it believable for his character to survive and march on the way he does while his moments with his daughter and stand-in give him the ability to flex his more dramatic chops. Georgina Campbell is great as always even if she doesn’t get much to do. The rest of the cast round out the affair nicely making for enjoyable fodder for the godlike creatures.
The first Bird Box received plenty of eyerolls when it premiered despite it being the movie of the moment. Bird Box Barcelona has fallen into a similar trap, which is disappointing. Overall, it’s an incredibly fine film with some unnerving set pieces and great performances amongst its cast. The attempts to add to the lore are admirable and make it exciting to see where the franchise will go next. Many will find it generic and familiar, but for those that want a little monster mayhem mixed up with the human condition, it’ll be just fine to open your eyes and see.
Overall Score? 6/10