Bird Box Barcelona is a more unsettling watch than Bird Box

georgina campbell, naila schuberth, bird box barcelona
Bird Box Barcelona reviewNetflix

Bird Box was a gamechanger for Netflix in 2018. The streaming service had released notable movies with major movie stars before it, but Bird Box was its first original movie to play like a blockbuster over that year's festive period.

The movie remains Netflix's fourth most-watched film of all time, so the surprise is that it's taken five years to return to that world. Even more surprising perhaps is that instead of Bird Box 2 with Sandra Bullock back as Malorie, we're getting a spin-off movie in the form of Bird Box Barcelona.

Taking place in the same timeline as the first movie, the new film – out now on Netflix – switches the action to Barcelona. It follows Sebastián (Mario Casas) and his daughter Anna (Alejandra Howard) as they attempt to survive the growing threat that has decimated the world's population.

mario casas , gonzalo de castro , lola duenas, bird box barcelona

The opening of Bird Box Barcelona might raise fears that this is just going to be a lazy Spanish-language retread of the first movie. Sebastián and Anna meet a group of survivors who they form an uneasy alliance with, much like Malorie did in the first movie.

But it soon becomes apparent that this familiarity is there to lull us into a false sense of security. An early reveal, which we won't spoil here, completely changes Bird Box Barcelona from the movie you thought you were watching into something more compelling.

From this point on, the movie might follow a similar structure to Bird Box with dual timelines, but it's an altogether more effective horror. Where in Bird Box you knew that Malorie was going to be fine as the movie opened five years in the future, you have no comfort blanket here.

As Sebastián and Anna continue their journey through the desolate streets of Barcelona with fellow survivors, there's an unpredictability that the first movie lacked. Set pieces are tenser, the imagery is nastier and darker, and it's an altogether more unsettling watch.

georgina campbell, naila schuberth, bird box barcelona

Smartly, despite the backlash against Bird Box not showing the entity, the spin-off continues to not show them. There's a slight visual tweak involving how they affect the environment, but by keeping it unseen, it heightens the terror whenever the survivors are outside. The entity could literally strike anytime and can't be outrun.

The concept of them being a manifestation of everybody's worst fears is inherently more terrifying than anything VFX artists can show, so the movie expands on the entity in different ways. While there's still an ambiguity to the entity, the movie sets up interesting angles that either another spin-off movie or a direct sequel could continue.

You'd also hope that whatever the future holds, it isn't the last we see of this cast as it's a strong ensemble. The concept is strong enough on its own, but the cast elevate it, especially Mario Casas who is magnetic as Sebastián and Barbarian's Georgina Campbell who continues her excellent horror work as fellow survivor Claire.

bird box barcelona stars gonzalo de castro as roberto, georgina campbell as claire, mario casas as sebastian and naila schuberth as sofia
Netflix - Netflix

While it's hard to imagine that Bird Box Barcelona can repeat the viewing stats of the first movie, especially without an A-list movie star in the lead, it's a better movie overall than Bird Box.

It felt like Bird Box never quite made full use of its concept and, despite having its moments, ended up feeling a bit too safe. Bird Box Barcelona, however, takes the concept and wrings it for the intense terror that it should deliver.

4 stars
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Bird Box Barcelona is available to watch now on Netflix.

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