We’ll do the tally for you: No Sandra Bullock, just some birds (and never in bins), loads of blindfolds, and the singular need to make audiences (additional) detest humanity. Such is the film math at play in David Pastor and Àlex Pastor’s “Chook Field Barcelona,” a continuation (if not a real sequel) to the 2018 smash Netflix hit “Chook Field.” Whereas Susanne Bier’s post-apocalyptic drama featured, sure, loads of Sandra Bullock and birds (in bins), it additionally carried with it an affection for the higher facet of humanity. On the very least, the thriller made the case that some folks need to be saved, particularly in the event that they must bear insane and intense trials to get there. The Pastors’ companion characteristic, co-written with “Chook Field” novelist Josh Malerman, has zero room for such niceties.
Like many post-lockdown options, “Chook Field Barcelona” leans arduous into its well timed! components, together with a hefty throughline in regards to the nefarious energy of misinformation, the best way trauma distorts our brains, and the way troublesome it may be to positively evolve within the face of upheaval. Meaning ascribing an amazing quantity of — in the end, possibly not even actual? — backstory to the nightmarish entity that has destroyed humanity, together with the place it got here from and what it desires from us. Whereas the primary movie acknowledged that the facility of what we don’t know makes for a significantly better time on the films, “Chook Field Barcelona” is consumed with explaining all the pieces, even when ultimate revelations appear intent on unstitching all that new data.
It begins with the acquainted: A father (Mario Casas) and his younger daughter (Alejandra Howard) set out for a spin round an deserted curler rink. Her eyes clamped shut, Anna asks the perpetual query to her cautious dad Sebastian: “Can I open my eyes now?” And she will, as a result of Sebastian has ensured that nobody else is with them, no different folks, no evil entities, and thus he and his solely remaining beloved one may be capable to get pleasure from a spot of enjoyable. No matter horrible occasion delivered to Earth the unseen baddies of the “Chook Field” franchise — invisible specters that, when considered head-on, do one thing so terrible that it conjures up the individuals who see them to immediately, violently kill themselves — occurred awhile in the past however Sebastian and Anna have tailored. Type of.
After their transient, be-wheeled foray, the pair set out right into a ruined Barcelona, the place they’re virtually immediately accosted by a trio of blind (!) thieves who take their scant meals and run off, leaving a bloody Sebastian struggling to maintain it collectively. However Sebastian has a plan — one we quickly uncover he’s utilized many occasions since this explicit pandemic unfolded — and it requires discovering “good folks” to help him and a hidden Anna. However what if Sebastian himself shouldn’t be a very good particular person?
Followers of the primary movie will doubtless thrill on the world the Pastors plunge us into, together with a collection of spectacular overhead photographs that showcase ruined cityscapes, from damaged highways to crashed jet planes, a seashore affected by our bodies, a avenue affected by our bodies, sides of buildings affected by our bodies (you get it). Much less efficient is a hammy flashback that takes us 9 months earlier, when a then-clean-cut Sebastian was simply making an attempt to get by way of a seemingly regular day earlier than the whole world went to hell. The flashback supplies loads of context as to why Sebastian has began infiltrating varied teams of “good folks,” not at all times with the perfect of intentions, however even that backstory does little to make us empathize with him.
Possibly that’s simply how issues are going to be any more. Possibly we’ve seen sufficient unhealthy habits, nefarious misinformation, and egocentric attitudes IRL to suck away our skill to provide in to them on the massive display. Sure, Sebastian has suffered, however so has everybody else within the fictitious world of “Chook Field,” and as his chilling plans proceed to unfold, they don’t make for thrilling leisure, they only make for feel-bad content material, the form of stuff that may encourage you to yell at your TV earlier than simply going forward and shutting it off.
Even for individuals who keep it up, the twists and turns and new guidelines the Pastors and Malerman try to put out for Sebastian and the many individuals (together with a really underused Diego Calva and Georgina Campbell) he meets alongside the best way fail to make a lot sense. The choice to “see” how the entities see provides nothing, swapping canines for birds is simply one other means so as to add extra heartbreaking gore to the characteristic, and the faux-religious angle that overtakes its narrative (and, it appears, Sebastian himself) is paper-thin.
“Chook Field” labored as a result of it discovered the phobia within the unknown, whereas its first follow-up is compelled to pile on reply after reply, even when they’re in the end unfaithful, even when they’re largely flimsy, even when they depart audiences really praying for the top of humanity (or no less than this pressure of filmmaking about them). By the point a fowl seems — in a field, besides! — “Chook Field Barcelona” has strayed so removed from what made the primary movie attention-grabbing, scary, and sure, well timed! that it stays however a distant reminiscence, as if somebody pulled a blindfold over our collective cinematic reminiscence, for no actual purpose in any respect, with no solutions to ever be discovered.