Bird Box: Barcelona is a new horror thriller film that is a spin-off sequel to the 2018 original Bird Box of the same genre. Although officially stated as a sequel, the new Barcelona version does not really follow up on the events of the first film but instead seems to be taking place around the same time as the first film, except the location is now the Spanish city of Barcelona. But despite being a spin-off film, Bird Box: Barcelona does genuinely add to the world and lore of the original film and makes for a tense and entertaining watch.
Plot Summary: What Happens In The Film?
Bird Box: Barcelona begins at an abandoned skating rink somewhere inside the city of Barcelona, where Sebastian has brought his teenage daughter Anna for a surprise visit. The girl is visibly happy and excited, but pleasant times do not last long, as the pair have to hurry out of the place after hearing loud noises. The world outside is the same as we saw in 2018’s Bird Box, as mysterious supernatural creatures roam the earth and cause anybody who happens to look at them to immediately kill themselves. As Sebastian attempts to escape, a group of blind survivors attacks him and steals all his food supplies. The man considers fighting back for an instant, but Anna tells him not to, and he complies.
Out on the streets, Sebastian and Anna wear heavy eye goggles coated with black paint so that they cannot even mistakenly take a look at the horrific monsters. They soon come across another group of survivors, and desperate to find shelter, Sebastian approaches them. He promises to lead them to generators, saying that his engineering firm has stored many at a particular location. Since a generator would provide electricity and make life much easier, the survivors agree to take the man back to their camp, which is inside an abandoned bus station. Here, Sebastian’s wounds from the earlier attack are treated by the camp’s doctor, and he is made to feel at home. One of the individuals in this group narrates the story of how he had to cut out his own eyes, adding to the information about the outside world. Like the last time, there are people out in Barcelona, too, who have seen the monsters and yet lived, for they now serve as messengers of the creatures. All seems well until night falls, and Sebastian looks strangely unconcerned about his young daughter, who is still outside.
What Is Sebastian’s Real Motive?
When first entering the compound, Sebastian had been really keen on noticing the entry and exit points and how to operate them. When the entire group goes to sleep inside one of the buses at dawn, he is seen muttering something as if in a trance while also trying to start up the bus. As Sebastian now genuinely looks very suspicious, the man drives the bus out of the compound and into the open world, where the group is attacked by the mysterious entities and is instantly made to kill themselves. Sebastian also removes his goggles and directly looks at the monsters, but he is not affected in a similar manner. As it becomes evident that the man is actually working for the monsters to bring them more targets, it is also revealed that Anna actually does not exist and that the man has been all alone all this while.
As it turns out, Anna had died sometime between now and nine months earlier, when the strange apocalypse had taken place. Since then, Sebastian has been seeing his daughter by his side, for this was actually the monster’s way of taking control of the man. Sebastian had now taken up the responsibility of going around the city by himself in search of survivors, forcefully drawing them out into the open and making them look at the monsters, therefore making them kill themselves. Every time someone dies in this manner, Sebastian imagines seeing their souls fly up into the sky, for he believes the monsters to be angels who need souls to survive. At the end of this holy work, Sebastian believes he will be reunited with his family once again, with his wife and daughter, who have both died.
Constantly persuaded by the vision of Anna to find more people and lead them toward “salvation,” Sebastian now comes across another group. After convincing them about the same generator that he had earlier touted, he is taken to their compound as well, which happens to be an underground bunker from the Spanish Civil War era. It is here that he first meets Sofia, a young German girl who had gotten lost from her mother and had then been rescued by Claire, who is one of the members of this survivor group. Over time, Sebastian gradually places young Sofia in the position of his dead daughter, much to the anger of the monster posing to be Anna, and he ultimately chooses to push Anna out of his mind and save Sofia instead.
How Had Anna Died?
Bird Box: Barcelona provides a long look at the events from the day that the apocalypse hit the city, and it adds to the pace of the film. Nine months before the current events, Sebastian had been at his job when he first received a call from one of the other sites. Being an engineer by profession, he was responsible for windmill farms, and he received a call from one of his German clients, which stated that two of the sites had to be shut down because many workers were peculiarly jumping into the turbines and killing themselves. Returning to his office in Barcelona, Sebastian watched the news about the apocalypse hitting different regions in Europe and Asia, and he instantly thought of his family.
Witnessing the devastating effects all around him, where people started killing themselves, Sebastian smartly decided not to look at anything and instead headed straight toward his daughter Anna’s school. Having to take the underground metro, the man luckily escapes taking a look at the monsters and thus avoids a mass suicide. Reaching Anna’s school and collecting her from there, the two then come across the priest of the local church. Unlike the others around, the priest, referred to as Father Esteban, was calm and accepting of the new changes, as he interpreted the monsters to be holy spirits and the apocalypse to be a godly miracle. Although Sebastian is able to avoid Father Esteban at this moment, the priest later returns as the main antagonist of the film.
Sebastian and Anna reached their home, where the man’s wife was waiting for them in her car, ready to drive away from the city. But in the devastating chaos that had taken over the place, the wife was instantly run over and killed by one of the cars on the street. Sebastian was left alone to take care of their young ten-year-old girl, and he really struggled to survive in the post-apocalyptic world. On one occasion, Anna had fallen sick, and Sebastian had to go look for help at the nearest hospital, but the thick blindfold over his eyes saved him from the shock of seeing everyone dead at the hospital. Although Anna did survive this sickness, the two were later found out by the Father and his group, who had by now turned into a cult worshiping the monsters as God. It was Father Esteban who forcibly got Anna to look at the creature and kill herself, and although Sebastian too was to be killed, he was left to work for the monsters when he was unaffected by looking at the entities.
What Do We Get To Know About The Monsters?
Just like in the earlier Bird Box film, Bird Box: Barcelona also does not make it very clear as to what the monsters are or how exactly they work. Although at the very end of the film, some more light is shed on the overall situation, nothing too specific is revealed about the monsters. Nonetheless, there is some minor information provided about these entities throughout the film, the most important being with regard to how they appear to the survivors. Whenever the survivors are exposed to the outside world and are approached by the monsters, they hear their loved ones calling out to them. These voices of relatives, friends, or lovers always tell the individuals to get rid of the covers on their eyes and to look at them.
This is obviously the monsters’ trap to get the survivors to look at them and kill themselves. However, these calls from loved ones are not always filled with happy memories and positive connotations; the monsters just play around with whatever would deeply affect the individual. For example, in the case of Claire, she constantly hears about her younger brother Jojo, who had been suffering from clinical depression and had committed suicide long before the apocalypse. Claire always remained guilty and sad about the fact that she was out of town when her brother’s body was found, and she also deeply missed him. It was for this reason that the monsters now lured her with the voice of Jojo. In the case of Rafa, the monsters pose as his beloved dogs, caught in some trouble and crying out in pain. In the case of the elderly couple Roberto and Isabel, the monsters’ technique is even more peculiar, for the personal memory used is not of love or grief but of anger and disgust. During their younger days, Roberto had caught his wife Isabel cheating with a different man, and it is this memory that is used by the monsters to not lure the man but distract him in this case.
In the case of Sebastian, the matter that affected him the most was the loss of his family, especially the death of his daughter Anna. Therefore, it was the form of Anna that the monsters were taking for Sebastian, but unlike the others, he was being manipulated to not kill himself but instead led to the deaths of others. The exact way in which this is possible is revealed at the very end of the film and is discussed later on. In the case of the effect that the creatures have on Father Esteban, it is more in line with the fanatics seen in the earlier film as well, who were already disturbed in their heads and then started seeing the apocalypse as a truly positive event.
One of the young men in this group, named Octavio, comes up with a certain theory about the monsters based on his education in physics. He tries to explain the creatures’ powers of manipulation with the theory of the observer’s effect from quantum mechanics. According to what Octavio explains, the theory proposes that all particles exist in an indefinite form until they are observed, and similarly, as he links, the monsters are some sort of quantum beings that do not have any definite shape or form until they are seen by the survivors. Once this happens, the monsters take the form of whatever can make the individuals deeply affected, be it something happy, sad, or painful.
This theory perhaps goes well with the fact that we have not seen any of the monsters yet, and they are always kept behind the camera. Whenever they are seen to be attacking, we are shown the face of the victim, and the film intends to make it seem like we cannot see the monsters in the exact form that the victim is seeing them because, to us, they would take a different appearance. But so far, based on the fact that it casts shadows and also based on the information provided during Bird Box: Barcelona‘s ending, it is clear that the monsters do take some physical form and are not just mental imaginations.
‘Bird Box: Barcelona’ Ending Explained: What Does Claire Find At The Montjuc Castle?
In the final part of the film, Claire has to escape with young Sofia by herself, while Sebastian stays back and fights against Father Esteban and his group. The woman takes off her goggles at one point to ensure their safety, and it seems like being mentally resolute against the monsters also works, at least to some extent. Claire then seems to lure in the monsters and use their indomitable energy to get the gondolas moving once again. When she and Sofia finally take the gondola and safely reach the Montjuc castle, the girl is reunited with her mother.
The entire Montjuc castle is seen to have been transformed into a community of its own, with military personnel in charge of the place’s security. It seems like the majority of the survivors in Barcelona took shelter at this castle, and by now, the place has grown into a self-sustaining group. It is here that more is revealed about the likes of Sebastian, as these people are termed seers. The medical examiner at the castle states that in the cases of some rare individuals, extreme stress and trauma led to an alteration to their DNA that is epigenetic. These individuals, whose DNA was altered because of their stress and the situation around them, were not affected by seeing the monsters and turned into seers. In the case of Sebastian, the shocking loss of his daughter heavily grieved him and led him to become a seer.
The examiner also reveals that they have been trying to develop a vaccine against the monsters using blood from a captured seer, and we are given a glimpse of this experiment at the end of Bird Box: Barcelona. A medical compound is created from the blood taken from the captured seer, and it is then injected into three lab rats, which are then put inside a sealed chamber. Soon, loud noises from the inside are heard, and their heart rates, which are being monitored, show that the rats die very soon, making it clear that the vaccine compound is of no effect yet. Inside the sealed chamber is indeed one of the mysterious monsters, but no information about how it was captured is shown or revealed. Perhaps how the seer and the monster were captured and whether any effective vaccine against the monsters can be developed will be shown in the next film in the franchise.