A spin-off of Netflix’s 2018 mega-hit, the Spanish film Bird Box: Barcelona is an engaging, anxiety-inducing horror thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world. Directed by David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, the film picks up from the time when alien creatures invaded the entire world, causing people to kill themselves upon direct eye contact with the invaders.
The film delves into themes of grief, loss, depression, and trauma, exploring how faith can blind us from distinguishing right from wrong. It takes viewers through an atmospheric dystopia and a ruined world as the characters strive to escape the never-ending nightmares that threaten to consume their lives.
Bird Box: Barcelona boasts fantastic performances from a talented and diverse ensemble cast. The story follows Sebastián as he navigates his journey for survival through the streets of Barcelona, depicting how the creatures have shaped his life after the city’s invasion.
This new installment in the Bird Box franchise proves to be superior in creating suspense and thrilling moments while delving deeper into the themes that the first film failed to fully explore. Despite a somewhat shaky and unconvincing climax, the film leaves a positive impression, leaving viewers eagerly anticipating a potential next installment (if it happens to be on the cards!)
The following breakdown will take a detailed look at the film and contain spoilers. Proceed with caution if you haven’t watched the film yet!
Bird Box: Barcelona (2023) Netflix Movie Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:
The film begins with Sebastián (Mario Casas) taking Anna (Naila Schuberth) to a skating rink and gifting her a pair of skates. While the two enjoy a good time skating together, they suddenly hear a loud noise from outside, making them alert.
They quickly make their way out, but Sebastián is struck by someone with an iron rod. Three blind people attack him, leaving him injured on the ground, as they frantically search him for food. Sebastián reaches for broken glasses to defend himself, but he looks at Anna, who signals him not to attack them.
They come out of the arena and find themselves in a deserted, dystopian world plagued by an unknown creature that causes people to kill themselves upon direct eye contact. As they walk through the empty roads of the city, a news channel in the background broadcasts that the world has been consumed by the epidemic that we saw in the Sandra Bullock helmed film.
On their way, Sebastián and Anna encounter a group of blindfolded people. Sebastián tells Anna that he will check if they are good people and instructs her to hide. He approaches the group and offers them the locations of generators from his time as an engineer in exchange for food and shelter.
The people discuss among themselves whether they should assist him, but they sense the creature approaching, prompting everyone to quickly move to their safe place using a shopping trolley tied to the gates of a workshop factory.
After reaching the safe place, Sebastián and everyone remove their blindfolds. Marcial introduces Sebastián to Liliana, a doctor who examines his injuries. During their time there, Sebastián notices a cupboard on the wall filled with keys. Later, at dinner, Sebastián is caught off guard when he stares at a man with disfigured eyes. The man explains that he purposely blinded himself to make him useless to a group of people who are even more dangerous than the creatures outside.
After dinner, while everyone retires inside a bus, Sebastián sneaks into the office area where he saw the keys, revealing that the place they are staying in is a large bus parking lot. Liliana notices Sebastián in the driver’s seat and questions his intentions when she sees him trying different keys of the bus. As she starts screaming for him to stop, Sebastián locks the doors in the driver’s area.
Liliana and Marcial try to stop him using an emergency axe, but Sebastián starts the ignition of the bus and drives around the parking lot, aiming to escape the compound. As Sebastián drives through the main gates of the parking lot and gets outside, the bus collides with a pile of old cars, resulting in a significant impact that nearly kills everyone on the bus.
Why does Sebastián lead everyone to their death?
The survivors of the crash emerge, and Sebastián compels them to open their eyes and become entranced by the beauty of the creatures, leading to their deaths. It appears as though he is in a trance himself as the souls of the survivors leave their bodies and pass into the afterlife.
The reason behind Sebastián’s actions becomes a question, but when his daughter, Anna, who we now understand is dead, takes his hand and tells him that he is doing the right thing by freeing these souls, we understand his inner conflict. Anna asserts that if he leads more of the surviving people to their demise, he will be reunited with her and his wife.
What happened with Sebastián 9 years ago?
A flashback takes us 9 years back to when Sebastián is an engineer working on establishing more windmills across Barcelona. While talking to his junior, he receives a call from his assistant, informing him that his workers have jumped into the turbines, causing some of them to stop.
Unable to comprehend the reason behind this, he rushes to his office while listening to frantic news reports about a global pandemic where people are taking their own lives. At the office, he receives a call from his wife, who warns him about the situation and urges him to retrieve their daughter from school so they can leave Barcelona for good.
Sebastián leaves the office and witnesses the mass hysteria unfolding outside. When a body falls onto his car, he decides to take the subway, only to encounter the creature taking control of everyone and leading them to their deaths.
This prompts him to head to his daughter’s school. While attempting to escape with Anna, an explosion redirects their path, and he encounters the Father of the local church. The priest, lacking hope, advises Sebastián to embrace death with open arms. Despite the challenges, Sebastián manages to reach his home, but tragically, his wife is killed by a moving car just before they can leave.
Back in the present time, Sebastián holds the belief that these creatures are some form of angels that will help him in reuniting with his family. As he walks the streets, he notices a group of people that belong to the fraction that doesn’t use blindfolds, also killing them; telling us that the creatures are becoming stronger.
He then comes across Claire and a group of survivors who are accompanied by two dogs. Sebastián employs the same tactic he used before to gain their trust. They lead him to an underground bomb shelter from wartime in order to escape from the creatures.
What is Sophia’s Story?
When Sebastián enters the bomb shelter, he notices a group of people from different cultures and ethnicities. Alongside Claire, an American, there is a young German girl named Sophia. As the others begin questioning Sebastián about the generators, he realizes he is cornered and has run out of lies. His daughter’s spirit encourages him to use Sophia as bait. Despite the others wanting to throw Sebastián out for his lies, Sophia takes his side and pleads with them not to harm him. Sebastián, who knows a little German, talks to Sophia.
Claire, who is more empathetic than the others, asks Sebastián to help understand Sophia’s story. Sophia reveals that she was on vacation with her mother when the tragedy of mass suicide unfolded. Her mother did everything she could to protect Sophia from being affected, but they got separated while trying to reach Montjuïc—a presumed safe place that can only be accessed by tramway and is believed to be free from the creatures.
Sebastián, motivated by his desire to lead them out of the shelter, suggests that they venture out to find this safe place. A vote is taken, and the group decides to proceed, despite the fact that the location is on the opposite side of Barcelona. Sebastián then has nightmares that stem from his trauma. We also see a brief glimpse of him trying to find a doctor for his sick daughter eight months before the present state.
The group heads out of the bomb shelter and proceeds towards the safe place. On their first pit stop, Sebastián learns that Claire was on a book tour in Barcelona when the creatures took over. That night, while everyone is asleep, Sebastián loosens the leash of the dogs.
The next day, as they try to reach their next destination, they are surrounded by the presence of an entity that has become stronger and is controlling their minds beyond the blindfolds. Unlike the creatures in the original Bird Box, this entity not only controls Sebastián but also feeds on the vulnerabilities of others, forcing them to loosen their blindfolds.
When the entity strikes due to Sebastián removing his blindfold, the dogs escape, and everyone else is deeply disturbed. Rafa, hurt because his dogs have run away, opens his blindfold to search for them and dies. The group manages to escape the attack, but not before losing Rafa and Roberto getting bitten by one of the dogs.
How are the creatures changing?
After tending to Roberto’s wound, the group discusses what the entity said to them. At this point, Octavio points out that the creatures have evolved into entities capable of easily manipulating and distorting their vision and will, exploiting their vulnerabilities through the “observer’s effect.” He believes the entity uses their pain, trauma, and grief to lead them astray.
Sebastián, who has been permanently manipulated by the entity, is only trying to reunite with his daughter and that’s why he is following the instructions that are told to him. The presence of Sophia and Claire somehow rekindles his belief in humanity, despite his original intentions. In an attempt to open him up, Sophia and Claire confront him about Anna, and Sebastián offers Sophia his daughter’s necklace.
In a flashback sequence, it is revealed that the priest seen earlier leads a group of people who wander without blindfolds.
What happens to Octavio?
When Roberto’s wound flares up, Octavio, Claire, and Sebastián search through apartments for antibiotics. They break into one of the apartments, and Octavio instructs them to secure all the windows before proceeding. However, Sebastián, compelled by Anna’s spirit, summons the entity and lies to Octavio, claiming to have secured the window.
Octavio, trusting Sebastián, removes his blindfold, takes a knife, and kills himself. To Sebastián’s surprise, he doesn’t witness the bright light he has seen during previous deaths he caused. Anna urges him to remove Claire’s blindfold as well, but a bewildered Sebastián hesitates to do so.
It appears that Sebastián finally realizes he is not doing God’s work but rather being manipulated by the devil.
The group heads back, but they have a confrontation with the people who don’t use blindfolds. Roberto and his wife succumb to the entity’s will when a member of the group approaches them on a motorbike.
Claire, Sophia, and Sebastián manage to escape into a building. However, Claire becomes suspicious of Sebastián, sensing that there is more to him than meets the eye. Taking Sophia with her, she goes to the top of the building while Sebastián, constantly coerced by Anna’s spirit, follows them. On the rooftop, Sebastián struggles to prevent Sophia’s blindfold from coming off but somehow manages to overpower Anna’s spirit.
Bird Box: Barcelona (2023) Netflix Movie Ending, Explained:
How is Sebastián able to see ‘them’?
In another flashback, we witness the invasion of Sebastián and Anna’s home by the people of the fraction. They force Anna to open her eyes, leading her to jump off the building. Overwhelmed by grief and rage, Sebastián also opens his eyes, but his intense emotions make him a tool for the entity that seeks more lives. Sebastián can see the people of the fraction because he believes in the existence of the entity as a higher power, unlike other normal individuals.
Meanwhile, in the present, Sebastián tries to convince Claire that he will lead both her and Sophia to the tramway. He realizes that his previous actions were driven by misguided grief rather than a genuine path to reunite with his daughter.
Initially hesitant, Claire decides to trust him when Sebastián fights off one of the members of the fraction. He manages to get into a car and drives them as quickly as possible towards the tramway.
The people of the fraction pursue them, so in order to shake them off, Sebastián bids farewell to Sophia and Claire, asking them to board the tramway while he distracts their pursuers. He positions the car in the middle of the gate and sets it on fire. The priest who leads the fraction arrives and tries to reason with Sebastián, pleading to be let inside.
Meanwhile, Claire takes Sophia up the stairs but encounters difficulty in getting the tramway to move. She removes her blindfold and notices a large bell beside the tramway. Thinking that ringing it might help, she takes the chance.
While her plan succeeds in getting the tramway moving, it also alerts the entity, which starts ascending the stairs. Despite the psychological attacks from the entity, including the haunting voice of her deceased brother, Claire manages to resist and jumps into the tram.
On the other hand, Sebastián engages in a battle with the priest and the spirit form of his daughter. Although he successfully stops them, he loses his life in combat.
What does Claire find in the safe place?
The tram takes them to the safe place, Montjuïc Castle, where they are greeted by a group of army personnel who provide them shelter. The castle is inhabited by people who have managed to evade the entity. The community seems self-sufficient, with survivors growing crops and striving to restore some sense of normalcy amidst the chaos. Sophia is reunited with her mother, and Claire is taken for a medical examination.
Who are the ‘Seers’?
The doctor who is examining Claire tells her that the people who are immune to the entity, for instance, the priest and Sebastián, are known as seers. She tells her that these rare individuals have an altered DNA structure due to a high level of stress which may be due to grief, loss, or trauma, leading them to be unaffected by the entity.
The doctor then reveals that they have been trying to make a vaccine against the entity by using the blood of a seer, and since Claire was briefly able to take her blindfolds off, she needs to take her sample.
The ending of Bird Box Barcelona takes us to a medical chamber created specifically to experiment with the blood of the seers. Apparently, they have captured one of the entities and have been testing blood samples of seers by injecting them into lab rats once the entity is released.
The final moments show that one of the seers is begging them to let him see the entity. The entity is then left free inside the restricted chamber, but we soon hear the rats dying which proves that the vaccine is still ineffective, leaving the door for more possible sequels.