Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

So I’ve been a bit lax with the blog lately – life has a habit of getting in the way, doesn’t it? But, having spent the last two weeks trying to find the square root of Jack shit, I’m back; and what better movie to (re)kick things off with than the one, the only, Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010). If you’ve never heard of this film, then good for you. There’s a reason it’s on lists of the worst of the worst – and frequently tops them. It’s appalling. There is no better word to describe this garbage than a clusterfuck; put simply, it ruins lives. And it’s my frank displeasure to bring you my review of what is genuinely one of the worst things ever.


Director, James Nguyen was probably dropped on his head as a child. Repeatedly. I can’t tell, but having seen some of the behind the scenes footage, it seems that he truly believes this movie to be not only good, but something of a masterpiece. Making use of his… talent(?) as writer, director and producer, he had full creative freedom with this project, wielding the shoestring $10,000 budget like a wrecking ball. Don’t ask me what that money went on, because I honestly couldn’t tell you. It wasn’t effects or talent. That’s for damn sure. Fair play to the guy though, he wanted to make a movie, and he actually did it. This was financed almost entirely from Nguyen’s day-job as a software salesman. He just picked up a camera and went with it. Of course, whether that money could have been spent better is a moot point. Perhaps you’d be better off buying a shipment of lethal injections, but maybe that’s just me. This wasn’t even his first movie, as he is also responsible for Julie and Jack (2003) and Replica (2005), neither of which I have seen… or want to. Apparently (in some cases, quite obviously) he took inspiration from An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963)… and Apocalypse Now (1979). He’s also a huge fan of Romantic films, such as Romeo and Juliet (1968). But romance isn’t enough for him. He needs some suspense and something thrilling… This is already sounding amazing, right? WRONG. And if you’re big on global warming then this is definitely the movie for you.

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James Nguyen: Visionary

 

The film opens with perhaps the most amateur title card and credits… maybe ever. And there’s a skull-achingly boring soundtrack that’s played on a loop, over and over and over and over and over and OVER again (for 3mins 40secs if you want to be pedantic about it) as our main character, Rod (Alan Bagh) drives around the town of Half Moon Bay, California. Guess what his job is… seriously, I’ll give you a minute and you get a shiny star if you’re right. No, please, I’ll wait. I’ll even stick the Countdown music on or something. Yeah, that’s right. He’s a software salesman… just like James Nguyen. He’s also basically a robot. Just like James Nguyen. Seriously, this guy can’t act to save his life. I mean, people have blamed Hayden Christensen in the Star Wars prequels for the same thing, but that was just poor direction. This is another level entirely, trust me. This shit is the equivalent of watching the Phantom Menace, but instead it’s George Lucas’ private, super director’s cut where every character is either Jar Jar Binks, child Anakin or the guy who keeps shaking his jowls too much. And every single shot is just filth. It’s that bad. Not one actor in this film comes close to being even half decent.

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Alan Bagh. In Rod we trust.

 

So Rod pulls up at a diner and we get the first line: “Hi”. And I’ve already killed myself. This is the worst ADR you’ve ever heard. It’s not in sync with her mouth, it’s uncompressed, sounds weird and it rips across the prior audio like a slap round the face from a wet salmon. Is this supposed to be funny?? Who the hell knows. We then get treated to our other lead, Nathalie (Whitney Moore) chewing on air very convincingly as Rod pervs on her, follows her down the street then sort of asks her out. Turns out they went to the same school or something. It’s not important. What IS important is how much of a creep he is, and how little you can hear of what any of the characters are actually saying because the audio is so janky and just the worst. Fun fact: apparently the actors often held their own microphones between their legs because there weren’t enough crew members to really do anything – most of the names in the credits are made up. We then get a news report about global warming and the first hints of crazy birds. And if you think you’re going to miss out on any of Rod’s journey to work, then buckle up for a thrill ride as he eats toast, sits in his car, gets petrol, sits in his car again, turns right a junction, gets stuck in traffic and has the craziest adventures…

It’s at this point in the film where everything goes right for everyone. And that’s no exaggeration. Rod closes a $1million deal (which could have been $2million but he gave them 50% discount because he’s an absolute joke), Nathalie gets a cover shoot with Victoria’s Secret and then the company where Rod and his friend work is bought out and everyone receives huge bonuses, which Rod uses to start a Solar Panel company. All this seems easy to explain doesn’t it, but it takes about half an hour for this to happen. The boardroom scene where the company is bought might just be the defining moment of cinema for this generation though. Let’s just say there’s lots of clapping and reaction shots for an ungodly amount of time. You’ll see what I mean. Meanwhile, Rod and Nathalie have started dating, but these scenes are boring. Then we realise we’re nearly 40mins in and we still haven’t seen the birds attacking anything yet. Oh but we will, don’t you fucking worry. We also realise the plot, or point of this film: global warming is bad. This is rammed down your throat so hard you may actually choke on it for real. Rod is the paradigm of clean living. He drives a plug-in hybrid that gets 100mpg, he has solar panels on his roof and starts a solar panel company and he watches An Inconvenient Truth to boot. This guy…

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Whitney Moore pretending to be into the movie.

 

Eventually, we get an awkward sex scene where Rod pervs on Nathalie again and they kiss and she has dirty feet(?). Then they wake up to discover that FINALLY birds are attacking the sleepy little town! After a mere 47mins, we have birds. And they were surely worth the wait. They’re all (and I mean ALL) CG, flat, lifeless things that move incredibly unrealistically and shriek in just the most annoying way. They dive bomb with plane sound effects, explode on impact, spit acid and do 360 loops pivoting on their central axis – staying still and spinning in the air. You just have to watch it to see how bad they are. I can’t honestly do it justice here. It’s not possible. Rod and Nathalie team up with Ramsey (Adam Sessa), an ex marine, and Becky (Catherine Batcha), his girlfriend, to fight off the birds… with coat hangers because of course (they were originally planning to use shower rails, but the motel in which they were filming didn’t have any so… coat hangers. And yes, they filmed in a real motel, amongst many other locations – often just showing up without permits and hedging their bets. According to Whitney Moore, Nguyen would angrily shout at members of the public who moved into shot and when she confronted him about this, he refused to speak to her for nearly a month, using Bagh as an intermediary. What a swell guy.

The group hit the road, fending off more birds with the stash of guns that Ramsey has for some reason, and come across a scene of pure carnage by the roadside as other cars calmly drive past. They rescue two children, Susan (Janae Caster) and Tony (Colton Osborne) from the scene of destruction and drive off again and it’s boring. In fact, quite a lot of this film is boring; that’s partly what makes it so bad. They stop for a break and some of the group run into a scientist called Dr. Jones (Rick Camp) who is studying the phenomenon and blames GUESS WHAT. Global warming of course. What else? The birds are apparently angry with humanity for polluting the environment and are therefore taking their revenge. Nice. Meanwhile, Becky is killed by birds and Ramsey is kind of sad but not really. He then attempts to save a group of tourists on a bus by trying to lead them to the safety, but the birds spray acid on them all and they die extremely unconvincingly. Are you engrossed yet?…

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When birds attack… coat hangers?

 

Rod, Nathalie and the kids drive on and stop again in some woods, where they come across a tree hugger named Tom Hill (Stephen Gustavson), who again spouts a load of stuff about global warming before hearing a mountain lion’s growl and telling them to leave… because that’s really the only way Nguyen could have possibly ended that scene. WHAT IS THIS MOVIE?? They escape a forest fire, which sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is – there’s a bit of smoke and they agree they should probably drive off – and then arrive at a beach where the kids get hungry. Rod finds a strangely convenient fishing pole and camping stove in the back of the car.. “Hey look. A fishing rod. I can go catch some fish… Oh and look. A stove. We can cook it.” Say that as flat and as I-don’t-give-a-shit-ly as you can and you’ve just about nailed Bagh’s entire performance. He goes to catch some fish, but the kids won’t eat it because they’re little brats and want McDonalds. Then birds attack and fly into the car, but for some reason don’t explode this time. Then doves appear and they fly off peacefully and that’s the end…

So that seems like a really weird ending doesn’t it? The birds simply leave. I suppose that might be a throwback to The Birds but it’s executed so poorly, there’s no suspense or anything that made The Birds what it was. It’s just shoddy film making plain and simple. Apparently, the doves coming in symbolises peace and that the birds are collectively deciding to give humanity a second chance to warm the globe less. Those pesky, fickle birds, am I right?

This film is bad. From the first note of the intro to the last shot of the four of them staring out to sea as the birds flap lazily away, this film is a clusterfuck of bad. The acting is bad, the editing is bad, the sound is bad, the camera-work is bad, the CG is bad, the locations are bad, the music is bad, the script is bad and the direction is excellent.. Oh wait… But I would recommend that you see it. This is the benchmark upon which all bad films should probably be measured. There is literally nothing right about this film other than one thing: this was an independent, privately financed creative effort. In some sense, Nguyen deserves an iota of praise for that feat alone. He was committed to his… art (if you can call it that) and he really shows that just about anyone can go out and make a movie. He financed, wrote and shot it himself. He promoted it himself at Sundance from the back of a van (with BIDEMIC instead of BIRDEMIC written on the side because he’s a dunce) and rented out a theatre in which to show it. Sure it’s fucking awful, but it’s his baby. It’s his horrifically disgusting alien bird vomit baby. He made it. And he actually garnered some degree of success from it, so kudos to him I suppose. Just one caveat, kids: unfortunately for us, he made a fucking sequel…

1.5/10

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Birdemic. Genuinely one of the worst films I have ever seen. Ever. Some parts of it are definitely good for a laugh though. Watch this one drunk with a few mates and you might just be in for an average time. Have any of you seen it and now want to remove your eyes? As always, any constructive criticism or comments are very much appreciated. Follow me on Twitter @snakeintheplane for updates on whatever acidic bird vomit I might be writing about or just doing in general, and I’ll see you guys when we take a look at the next Snake in the Plane!

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