In 2018, Netflix released a little movie named Bird Box, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Sandra Bullock, John Malkovich, Sarah Paulson, Trevante Rhodes, and Machine Gun Kelly. With no time at all, the post-apocalyptic horror thriller became a phenomenon. Within the first three days, Bird Box amassed over 10.2 million viewers in the US alone, proving to be a huge success for Netflix.
So, it wasn’t long before Netflix decided to make more movies set in the Bird Box universe. With no time at all, directors Alex and David Pastor stepped up to offer a unique introspective look into the Bird Box post-apocalyptic world and creatures with Bird Box: Barcelona. The Spanish directors and screenwriters recently sat down with MovieWeb to discuss their latest project, and their take on the Bird Box apocalypse.
How the Pair of Directors Came to Direct the Next Bird Box Movie
It’s not an easy feat joining such an expansive franchise like the Bird Box universe. So, when asked how the two directors came to the Bird Box franchise, Àlex said: “Well, what happened was, we heard that Netflix and the producers of the original film were looking for ideas to set up parallel stories set up in different parts of the world. They have an idea in mind of what those stories should be, but they were open to filmmakers to come to them, with their takes. And we were thinking about it. And we fell in love with an idea to set it up in Barcelona, and we approached them with that idea. And they seem to like it, or else I guess we wouldn’t be here, right?”
David added to his brother’s statement: “It was just that they really gave us a lot of freedom. As long as the movie respected, like the rules of the original Bird Box. And it made sense that it took place in the same universe. We could just do whatever we wanted in terms of the story. We’re not beholden to the events of the first movie, we had freedom to come up with a completely original brand-new story with brand-new characters, which for us was very, very exciting. Also, when you’re dealing with a parallel story like this and an expansion like this, they’re different in that you have more freedom than with a sequel.”
“The fact that you don’t have Sandra Bullock as your main character also gives you more freedom to go a little crazier, you know, a little wilder with your story, and do things that maybe like the official Bird Box sequel would not be allowed to do, you know, we’re like the quirky European offshoot, then can go Wilder, you know, and try different things”.
Your New Favorite Directing Duo
There have been many phenomenal directing duos in cinematic history. We’ve had the Coen brothers, the Wachowskis, the Russo brothers, and now, the Pastors. “Well, I’m surprised that more people don’t do it,” said David when asked the differences between directing on your own, compared to with a partner in arms. “Because directing is pretty hard. Yeah, having somebody that you trust, in this case, a sibling, somebody that has your back, and that you can turn to and be like, ‘Is this right? Is this wrong?’ […] and reassure you or challenge you, and know that that person has your best interests at heart, I think that’s great.” David continued.
“Otherwise, this job also can be very lonely. So for me, it is not. It’s always like, a collaboration. But I think the key though, is to prepare, you know, to make sure that before we show up on set, Alex and I have done our homework, we’ve talked about it, we know how we’re going to shoot it, we know what each scene is about. So when we show up, it’s not like two different directors showing up and each one trying to pull the scene of the movie in a different direction. We’re all pulling in the same direction. And if we’re consistent, and we give the crew instructions that are consistent, then everything goes great. If we start telling people different things, and I say black, and he says white, that would be a recipe for disaster for sure.”
On the Religious Themes of Bird Box
Audiences will find that Bird Box: Barcelona holds many themes regarding religion and belief, especially regarding what characters see when looking at the mysterious creatures. “The film explores ideas around God, angels, demons, and aliens. To meet these creatures that are unknowable can mean different things to different people,” said Alex on the subject. He elaborated:
We had this idea that when people face something that’s incomprehensible, that’s impossible to grasp and impossible to process with a simple human brain, they fall back into their cultural background or religious background, or however they were brought up, whatever their pre-existing beliefs are, right? And that’s how they make sense of something that’s impossible to make sense of. And in this case, we thought that gelled very well with the idea of a mystical experience, like [being] faced with the unknowable. It’s like facing the face of God in a way.
The image of the creatures that characters see based on their beliefs isn’t the only parallel to religion that the Pastors explore. Bird Box: Barcelona features elements surrounding the Biblical book of Revelations and its narrative of the Rapture, where the spiritually good are sent to heaven while the others are forced to roam a bleak hell on Earth. Seth Rogen and James Franco’s This Is the End similarly explores this idea.
“You project your beliefs into something that you can understand, and that’s your way of trying to make sense of it,” said David. “And if you believe in the Rapture, that’s how you’re gonna perceive that. It’s the same as when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Central America, the natives there, they tried to process what they were seeing through the lens of their existing beliefs. Who are these people arriving here? How does this gel with our existing beliefs? […] So, the same way that they tried to understand the Spaniards through the lens of their Aztec mythology, maybe people in Spain will try to understand these creatures through their Catholic beliefs.”
The Mysterious Creatures of the Bird Box Universe
Part of what shot Bird Box to its great success, other than the great Sandra Bullock of course, was the compelling mystery that surrounded the appearance of Bird Box’s creatures. When asked if we will ever see the creatures and what the two directors think they objectively look like, Alex Pastor said:
“I think that they’re a subjective experience. And that’s what I think makes the story so appealing. This idea that, it’s this ever changing thing, that takes shape, based on who you are and how you see the world. So it can mean many, many things, depending on who you are. And that’s the most terrifying of all, you know”.
Currently, the Pastors have no plans on returning to the franchise. “We just made this one… we’ve lived the world Bird Box for the last couple of years. I think we probably need a break,” stated David. “If you ask us in six months, maybe I’d say yeah, sure. Why not? Right now, I think I need a break from the blindfolds.”
Bird Box: Barcelona releases on Netflix July 14th.