When ‘Blindly’ was released in 2018, ultimately one of the Netflix originals that had the most impact and grossed the most, the situation was very different. For both the platform and planet Earth: Netflix did not grow so much dwarfs and the world had not yet experienced the coronavirus. The pandemic changed the rules of the game both at the economic-logistical level in the operation of the industry and at the thematic level in the preparation of the stories, especially, of course, as far as the post-apocalyptic subgenre is concerned. This will be the differential characteristic between the film starring Sandra Bullock and this spin-off ‘Bird Box Barcelona’.
Making the continuation of a very successful film for Netflix is not easy, especially when precisely that success could portend, taking into account the dynamics of the current industry, a more than presumable long-lived saga. It is no longer just about maintaining the canon and adhering to some rules that were presented in ‘Blindly’ (something in which David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, the directors, are very experts watching their sci-fi tapes ‘Infected’ or ‘ the last days’), but they must give it a twist, innovating what has already been seen and adapting to these post-pandemic times.
If ‘Blindly’ was about motherhood, ‘Bird Box Barcelona’ is about fatherhood. Mario Casas plays Sebastián, the father of a girl with whom he lives the moment when a terrible presence begins to wreak havoc among the population and destroy Barcelona. Plunged into the apocalypse that we saw in the original film, Sebastián will have to wander through the ruined streets of the Catalan city and deal with organized survival groups (some fantastic Diego Calva Hernández, Georgina Campbell or Patrick Criado) and with false prophets who find an opportunity in chaos to rule.
Although ‘Bird Box Barcelona’ takes place at the same time as the film from which it derives, of course it owes certain inherited concepts on which the Pastor brothers’ film is based. As noted before, Casas takes over from Bullock to embody that parent who is concerned about his offspring, with an urgent need to save his family and find a new stable situation. While Bullock’s mother was dealing with an early pregnancy, Casas’s father takes on another dimension and his problematic narrative is rooted in mourning and coping with loss in the midst of doomsday. Similarly, ‘Bird Box Barcelona’ replicates the temporal structure of ‘A blind’, alternating the present with the past and using flashbacks to explain and rhyme, something not too original but effective in giving the story fluidity.
A constant pandemic
An inevitable trend is taking place in science fiction cinema and it is the notable difference in the one filmed before the coronavirus and the one filmed after. More in the subgenre of post-apocalyptic pandemics, the appreciable difference is as evident as realizing when a creator has gone through those experiences and not just imagines them. Somehow, ‘Bird Box Barcelona’ manages to detach itself from that more imaginative factor inherent in science fiction, to present a more humanized story, where the isolation and danger of a quarantine that affected us all is breathed on all four sides.
Also in the field of creatures, the film by the Pastor brothers expands the limits of this universe and answers certain questions that are key to understanding its origin and essence. The creatures are still terrifying enough not to be shown, and the blindfolded protagonists wave their arms in the air as they search for something to hold on to. However, in this sequel/spin-off, evil (beyond the very creatures that catalyze the end of the world) is embodied by a villain with religious pretensions, through whom A brief sociological critique of the false prophets who take advantage of the post-truth of our era to rise up as the saviors of humanity is drawn.converting the ingenuity of ‘A ciegas’ into the Manichaeism of ‘Bird Box Barcelona’.
The film by the Pastor brothers, in short, delivers an acceptable continuation on a technical level and little risky on a conceptual level. It soaks up what we experienced in our own flesh and applies it, but it does not avoid being a generic installment that shows somewhat common tropes in the history of the genre. However, it only remains to be seen if more deliveries are made in different parts of the world, such as ‘Bird Box Rio de Janeiro’ or ‘Bird Box Hong Kong’, which would give Netflix free rein to replicate its content but in another part of the planet. (as it happens with ‘La casa de papel’) or even to play the card of the multiverses, now so fashionable. Now that is a pandemic that will condemn us.
The best: Soak up the post-coronavirus sensation and humanize the problem.
Worst: The expectations regarding the first film and its genericity.