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Bird Box Barcelona (15)

Director: David Pastor, Alex Pastor
Screenplay: David Pastor, Alex Pastor

Starring: Mario Casa, Georgina Campbell, Diego Calva

Review: RJ Bland

Remember Bird Box? That post-apocalyptic horror starring Sandra Bullock that everyone seemed to be talking about at the tail end of 2018? There's a good chance that you do, because most people seem to have seen it. In the US, it was viewed by 27 million people within its first 7 days or release. That's basically 1 in 12 Americans. Which was a record at the time. Who knew people loved horror so much eh? Josh Malerman's novel of the same name was optioned before it was even published back in 2014 but it's not a book that garnered a cult following so why was the film so popular? Maybe it was the fact that A Quiet Place had put high-concept (non-zombie) apocalyptic horror back on the map in the spring. Or maybe it was the stellar cast? Or maybe some viewers just wanted to see what all the early fuss was about? Either way, it's fair to say that the film was generally well received. It may have been a little bloated and messy but there were enough thrills and chills to satisfy most. A sequel would have been discussed early doors but Covid-19 undoubtedly quashed any hopes of a quick-fire follow-up. But alas, now we have one! Bird Box Barcelona, which moves the action from California to...well, Barcelona.


Set nine months after the onset of the apocalyptic catastrophe, Barcelona, like pretty much every other city on Earth, is a desolate, rubble-filled place full of corpses and destruction. There aren't many survivors left and those that are still alive only venture out when absolutely necessary and as you'd expect, wear blindfolds the whole time. Sebastien (Mario Casas), a widower, is one of these and we join him in a dimly lit skating rink where he and his daughter, Anna, share a moment of levity amongst all of the despair. Sebastien's whole existence is dedicated to protecting her and after an early run in with a trio of blind intruders, he chances upon a small group in the streets and manages to persuade them to let him join their community, who are holed up inside an old bus factory. He informs the group that he is alone and privately tells Anna to hide and that he will come and find her when he is sure the group aren't a threat. Once there, Sebastien receives some medical attention and during dinner, is warned of a small gang roaming the city called the 'Seers', who are able to look at the invisible entities without risk of self-harm. This may sound like a good thing but it turns out that these people are basically a cult and their MO is hoiking people out onto the street and forcing their eyes open. Suicide follows shortly after. Can Sebastien and his new chums survive the double threat of the entities and the cult that seems to be doing their bidding? The odds aren't good...


Bird Box Barcelona is an odd film, narratively speaking. Like the original, it insists on having a series of flashbacks interspersed throughout. However, in Bird Box (2018), these felt more justified and provided some of the best moments of horror in the movie. Here they add very little and interrupt the flow somewhat. But its the protagonists of Bird Box Barcelona that bring down the vibe. Besides the fact that none of them are fleshed out very well, there's one arc in particular that is fundamentally peculiar and its effects reverberate through the story at every turn. To give any specifics would spoil a certain twist that occurs so we won't go into detail. It's an ambitious direction and not one that you'll see replicated too often but it doesn't quite work. As a result, the stakes never feel quite as high as they should and the tone feels a bit more nihilistic than the first. Despite attempts to give the film an emotional undercurrent, it never fully engages on that front.


That being said, the film does have some reasons to stick around. For starters, it looks good. It may not feel as epic as Susan Bier's original but the Pastor brothers do a solid job in making it feel more claustrophobic and suffocating. The baking, sun-drenched streets of Spain offer an interesting change of scenery and the action is well shot. It doesn't hold back on the bloodletting either. A little more tension and suspense to go with that would be welcome too though. Mario Casas is fine as the troubled lead. He's also got that horrible problem of looking like a combination of Josh Hartnett, Tom Hardy and Jason Momoa. Poor guy. Additional acting chops are introduced halfway through via genre fave Georgina Campbell (Barbarian) who is also as watchable as ever.


There's a certain pressure on sequels (or sidequels as this really is) to delve into the mythology and give us some more exposition on the big bad. It's not a demand that usually bears much fruit though to be honest and with antagonists as vague as these, you don't really want to know much more about them. That's part of the fun (and horror). Fortunately, although we get a couple of interesting theories posited, a lot of the mystery still remains by the time the credits roll. The ending is satisfying, if rather a little too predictable but it wastes no time in letting us know that we can expect more Bird Box content in the future. Who knows what the next one will be called? Bird Box Bordeaux? Bird Box Beijing? Bird Box Bognor Regis? We'd probably watch any of those to be honest...

Bird Box Barcelona is a solid if unremarkable follow up to the 2018 smash hit. There is enough blood and action to satisfy genre fans but it's a shame that we're just not allowed to care for our leads as much this time round.
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