Bird Box: Barcelona15
One of the earliest examples of Netflix being able to create original content with mass appeal was 2018’s Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock. Although receiving mixed reviews at the time, it went on to rack up impressive viewing figures for the relatively new streaming platform, including 26 million viewers in the US in its first seven days of release.
With that kind of success, a sequel is a no brainer. However, that’s not exactly what we have here, in what is best described as a spin-off, sans Sandra Bullock, and relocated to the second most populated city in Spain.
Having watched what happened to the US, where a phenomenon spread the country that meant that anyone who went outside would soon be compelled to commit suicide, European media outlets were now reporting cases in Europe.
Nine months later and Sebastián (Mario Casas) finds himself wandering the streets of Barcelona, wearing a pair of thick, blacked-out goggles, looking for safety.
The deadly phenomenon has indeed now made its way to Europe, making it impossible to walk the streets without being blindfolded.
The phenomenon has managed to mutate in some way, at least in its capabilities, as it has managed to brainwash certain humans, allowing them to still see outside, but only to capture those blindfolded and force them to see the deadly light.
So when Sebastián comes across a small community living underground, where he meets Claire (Georgina Campbell), an English doctor, a plan is hatched to reach another part of the city, believed to be a possible safe zone from all this madness, which the group agree to move to. But with these converted humans added to the mix, risking travelling above ground through the streets is now even deadlier.
Although it may come across as somewhat of an odd concept, taking a successful film starring successful actress Bullock, and ignoring her storyline completely, TV have been doing this sort of thing for years with no issue. Consider, for instance, The Walking Dead, and its various spin-offs, including Fear the Walking Dead; a set of different stories, in a different locale, set within the same post-apocalyptic time-line. And that’s exactly the same as what takes place here.
The difference here is however, that like the abilities of the deadly entities mutating here, the story has mutated too.
And what starts off as a possible The Last of Us clone, with a father walking through deserted urban streets with his daughter, it soon takes an intriguing turn.
This film is awash with religious connotations. The main narrative is a carbon copy of the idiom a wolf in sheep’s clothing, with the main protagonist a deadly foe walking amongst the unaware. It also features a priest, where an eye is introduced as an icon to represent those that ‘see’, on behalf of the entities. And then there’s the classic tale of redemption, ripped right out of John 9 – once I was blind, but now I see. But whether it would all make ideal watching at Sunday school is another matter.
What its directors David and Alex Pastor do well however, is create a sense of conflict with one of the characters, and leaning into anther religious heavy-hitter – forgiveness. This is a man who has clearly done wrong, regardless of whether or not he believes he’s doing it for the right reasons, causing a large amount of death on his travels. It’s an interesting journey the directors take the audience on then, riddled with questions of morality.
It may not have the fear factor of the original, but it doesn’t make it any less a tense experience.
The fact that it’s just another episode within an ever-evolving cinematic universe is also intriguing, especially as there are plans to expand it, with presumably other stories in other parts of the world to explore, which makes the franchising that little more exciting at the possibilities yet to come.
With this phenomenon running riot on the streets, it wouldn’t make for a very appealing Lonely Planets entry, but as the latest destination for the Bird Box franchise, this is very much a must-see.