The blindfolds are back but Sandra Bullock is long gone in "Bird Box Barcelona," the tepid, uninvolving sequel/spinoff to Netflix's surprise 2018 streaming smash.
The action here is moved to Spain, with a different group of survivors navigating a post-apocalyptic hellscape and trying to avoid eye contact with a mysterious force/entity/being, which makes all who witness it (or them?) spontaneously, gruesomely take their own lives. Here the story is more rooted in faith and is colored with the supernatural, but its efforts to expand the "Bird Box" universe don't clear up any of the mysteries from the first time around, and there's not enough here to keep fickle at-home viewers from looking away, just like the characters in the movie.
"Bird Box Barcelona" veers from Michigan author Josh Malerman's 2020 "Bird Box" sequel, "Malorie," which followed the character Bullock played in the original movie. (Malerman is still on board here, in a producer role.) The focus this time is on Sebastián (Mario Casas), an engineer in the wind power field, and his young daughter Anna (Alejandra Howard) as they traverse the blindfolded world along with a new crew, including a psychologist ("Barbarian's" Georgina Campbell) and the skeptical Octavio (Diego Calva).
Are Sebastián's intentions entirely pure? Would we be asking if they were? Yet the conflict between the characters and their respective moralities isn't enough of a draw, and the often shoddy looking special effects are enough to continually lift viewers out of the story.
Writer-director team Álex and David Pastor (2009's "Carriers") have a keen visual sensibility, especially for ruined cityscapes, and an overturned cruise ship in a harbor and bodies dangling from an overpass create an eerie, unsettling mood. But there's little to anchor the story or keep viewers invested in this extension of the "Bird Box" universe. In a world of bombed out journeys into darkness, it's one apocalypse too many.
'BIRD BOX BARCELONA'
Rating: TV-MA: (unsettling situations)
Running time: 1:50
How to watch: On Netflix Friday
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