''Papa, can you hear me?'' Well, unfortunately do we not only hear it but also see it, to the point that the word ''papa'' has lost all of its meaning now. Possibly for no other reason than trying to manufacture another viral sensation, the 2018 film 'Bird Box' now has a spinoff film called Bird Box Barcelona (same title in Spain), both based on Josh Malerman's novel 'Bird Box'. Again set in a dystopian future where mysterious entities have taken over and eliminate humans that look at them, Sebastian (Mario Casas) is trying to survive the threat in the empty streets of Barcelona after having lost both his wife and daughter Anna (Alejandra Howard). Along the way, he meets other survivors including Claire (Georgina Campbell) from England and young German girl Sofia (Naila Schuberth) as they also encounter dangerous cult leader Father Esteban (Leonardo Sbaraglia).
Surely it's only appropriate to start with the things that we mostly hear and feel, as brought to you by brothers Àlex and David Pastor who are both serving as writer-directors here. It's really wild to think about the fact that their script is the one that was picked to be developed and produced since it somehow manages to make you reconsider the first film's—which I thought was a perfectly okay thriller with a solid hook—impact and execution.
Pastors' character writing is the first flaw to surface, giving actors mostly empty vessels to work with while Sebastian's only motivation stems from having seen women in his life brutally killed, something that is on its own laughably generic at this point. Then when those airless characters are given dialogue that has no value (pointless backstories, the word ''papa'' is used about 1000 times), any kind of tension that might've been there suddenly vanishes as well. Finally when you see the plot characters' mission evolve, you end up thinking about the most important question, ''What is it even about?'', and it truly is hard to find a reasonable answer to that question as the movie's themes are entirely incomprehensible.
We can finally move on to what we see and experience, which I'm sad to report doesn't help to increase the film's entertainment value or thematic depth. Pastors aren't able to draw either believable or meaningful performances from their actors who really just seem confused as they wander around set pieces and are required to make dumb choices just for the sake of plot and artificial thrills. Pastors, cinematographer Daniel Aranyó and editor Martí Roca's approach to visualising everything is also to go full ''film bro'' as they decide to do every possible shot and use every possible angle—something that happens when a big budget eliminates intentionality—which is more dizzying than anything else. There doesn't seem to be any plan for those shots or their order, making the whole experience incoherent and, frankly, incredibly annoying.
In the beginning, Bird Box Barcelona certainly introduces itself as an impressive achievement especially for an European production with a nicely staged wasteland, solid VFX (supervised by Carlos Zaera and Martin Hall) and a familiar premise but in the end the filmmakers seem to be completely lost in their pointless creation. Some things are simply better not seen or heard.
Frowneys: Screenplay, characterisation, directing, acting, dialogue
Warning: watching this might cause you Spain without the S.