Birdemic (2010)

“Hey, look! There’s an old guy on the bridge!”

Justin’s rating: Only slightly more deadly than the avian flu

Justin’s review: When I was a kid, my brothers and I would often take our family’s gigantic camcorder and attempt to make movies. I say “attempt,” because no successful product came out of those endeavors. Mostly, we imitated much better movies that we had seen (such as Terminator) and accomplished nothing more than giving our parents blackmail material for our adult years. I’m not proud of what we made, but we were kids, and so we didn’t know better.

I say this, because what I just witnessed while watching Birdemic was similar in quality to what we 10-year-olds did back in 1986 — except that everyone here should have known better and not even tried.

Let’s keep in mind that it took Alfred Hitchcock, an absolute master of film, to make birds actually terrifying. After all, we’re talking about lightweight creatures with hollow bones and a penchant for worm snacking. So why director James Nguyen thought he could pull off a similar feat absolutely mystifies me. Instead, he made a movie that is flat-out terrible in every way that you could imagine, and a few more that Google’s Dark Web labs designed special for this project.

It is glorious. I don’t think I stopped laughing for most of it.

Despite the title, you ain’t gonna see no birds for most of the first half of this movie. Instead, we get a long, long, very long and drawn-out romance between Rod, a wooden computer software salesperson who makes “millions” from doing practically nothing, and Nathalie, a fashion model who gets a call from Victoria’s Secret to be their new cover model. Suffice to say, neither Rod nor Nathalie show any chemistry or working knowledge of human conversation — and you are going to witness every horrible minute of their wooing. Rod’s monotone delivery and weirdly stiff movement is what drives a lot of the humor from this part.

If, for some reason, you make it 47 minutes into Birdemic, then you’ll wake up with a start to discover that eagles (I think?) have suddenly started to attack the town. It’s here that we must speak of the birds, because you’ll seriously be rubbing your eyes at what’s used to pull them off. The only way that I can describe it is… screensaver birds? Like, still sprites that have parts of their wings animated and are superimposed onto the film to make it look like they’re hovering and flapping. I honestly don’t think there’s a way for someone to make this look more fake if that was their doctoral thesis, but here, Nguyen stumbles upon this solution with ease.

Under attack, Nathalie and Rod shift over into “zombie survival mode” and go on a road trip where bizarre characters are met, people are killed via bird acid, and everyone brainstorms ways to leave the safety of their van to run out into the exposed open. Each stop on this trip is more head-scratching than the last, such as a visit with a literal tree hugger, a gas mugging (in which they leave said gas behind and promptly run out of gas), and a beach fish fry where the fish is just plopped, uncleaned, into a frying pan along with seaweed. As they’re doing all of this, there are numerous shots of people calmly driving and walking in the background, clearly not informed as to the “shock and terror” that’s supposedly happening around them.

What’s even stranger is the fact that this is apparently supposed to be an environmental message movie, which means that certain characters occasionally burst into monologues about global warming and solar panels that are as earnest as they are nonsensical. Listen pal, I didn’t rent this movie to have you spouting third-hand Al Gore gibberish; I want deadly birds, and lots of ’em.

As I said, I genuinely found Birdemic weirdly hilarious for every poorly shot, badly acted, and questionably edited scene. It’s since become a legendary movie in its badness, and for that, I feel it deserves a place of honor in the Mutant Reviewers’ nest.

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