BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR

by Dionisio Traverso Jr.

After many false starts, I finally watched this. I should first mention that I’ve taken college film classes before, and can appreciate how difficult making a movie can be. I also know what it’s like to invest yourself in a story or message you believe, and have the film you’ve made turn out total shit. In fact, one of my college film projects was used by the instructor as an example how NOT to do a group project, and I laughed all thorough the showing of it. What else could I do, when I’d become my own Edward D. Wood?

That being said, I laughed all through this one, because it was so earnestly incompetent. Badly written movies, as well as badly directed movies, are a dime a dozen, but most of these lack any kind of heart. Writer/Director James Nguyen clearly cares about the effects of global warming, and hammers his message throughout this film ad nauseum. Thing is, he doesn’t know how to make a movie. I mean, in almost every way. The script is abysmal, with bad dialogue, poorly defined characters, and lapses in logic (why would you head into the woods to a stream to fill bottles with water when you’ve just bought several gallons of water at a gas station?). The filming is, at least, in focus. Otherwise, the framing is bland or amateurish. Also, does this guy know about ADR or foley artists? Dialogue is recorded on noisy streets as is, but the volume drops when talking stops, and you can still see the cars passing. Ambient sounds disappear at random while two people talk in the same scene, depending on who the camera cuts to. Then there’s the birds. Good god, the birds. The worst CGI birds ever. They hover without flapping their wings! They stay in place while people wave hangers at them! (Hangers!) They dive-bomb gas pumps and explode on impact! Very small explosions! They don’t even set off the pumps!

This wouldn’t have been as bad (and fun) without the acting. Alan Bagh plays the software salesman/hero as if he were an animatronic. Whitney Moore as his model girlfriend is certainly cute, but not Victoria Secret material, as this movie would like you to believe, and she acts bored with a sometimes disgusted look. The worst is an ornithologist played by Rick Camp, who chews through an explanation of how global warming is causing wildfires, bird flu, SARS, hemorrhoids, etc. The rest of the cast is so bad they’re hilarious.

This is not quite at Plan 9 From Outer Space’s level, but it comes damned close. There are some slow parts, especially at the beginning, but if you can get through them, and if you love so-bad-they’re-fun movies, you’ll have a great time. 4 of 5 Limburger chunks.

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