“A platoon of eagle & vultures attack the residence of a small town. Many people died. It’s not known what caused the flying menace to attack. Two people managed to fight back, but will they survive Birdemic? Does anybody care?”- IMDB plot description for BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.
It’s hard to believe that in 2009, the same year which gave us the ground breaking, game changing, visual benchmark that is AVATAR, another film could come along that rivals its achievements with the exact opposite results. That film is BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR, a new “romantic thriller”™ (that’s the filmmaker’s trademark. No lie!) by “visionary” writer and director JAMES NGUYEN, who is another in a growing list of bad movie auteurs making it “big” these days.
There’s the late JOHN RAD and his brilliantly awful, decade spanning, action movie epic, DANGEROUS MEN. Then you’ve got the now-famous TOMMY WISEAU and his enormously successful relationship-piece nightmare, THE ROOM. Last year, in addition to BIRDEMIC, we were also introduced to the mysterious newcomer MARK REGION and his inexplicable science fiction “thriller”, AFTER LAST SEASON (which just has to be seen to be believed. I saw it and I still can’t believe it). And now the soiled, tattered red carpet can be rolled out for one JAMES NGUYEN and his environmentally conscious horror film, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR.
The Cinefamily has been showing this film a lot lately and I’ve been able to see it twice now. It began growing a cult following last year when it screened in several cities, including Austin and New York and comedians PATTON OSWALT and TIM AND ERIC have been ballyhooing it a great deal. SEVERIN plans on releasing it on DVD in the near future, but it’s something that really has to be enjoyed with an audience that are preferably in an inebriated state of consciousness.
BIRDEMIC tells the story of Rod (played with an overwhelming malaise by ALAN BAGH), who is having the greatest day of his life. He meets the girl of his dreams, Nathalie (portrayed with a lazy sexual vapidness by WHITNEY MOORE), whom he makes a dinner date with.
He then drives his hybrid plug-in Mustang to his computer software job, stopping first to fill up his tank (we watch him perform this activity, completely unrelated to the plot, in real time). Once he’s in his cubicle, he closes a big deal for “one million dollars”. High five!
If that wasn’t enough awesomeness for one day, he learns in a big meeting, that the company he works for has just been sold for “one billion dollars” and with his stock options, he’s gonna be rich! After the longest applause break ever recorded on film, Rod decides to show his date the night of her life.
They share a wonderful dinner, where they fully connect on every level, and then retire to a local motel to consummate their evening by making love to each other. Following the most innocuous, awkwardly staged and horribly lit love scene ever filmed, the two fall asleep under the stars in Half Moon Bay, California. And that’s when all feathered HELL breaks loose!
A swarm of angry eagles and vultures, driven crazy by pollution and the depleting ozone layer, attack the small town in a violent rampage. Armed with wire hangers and eventually automatic weapons, Rod and Nathalie fend off the winged antagonists and lead a small band of survivors to safety.
BIRDEMIC is like watching a big rig truck jacknife on the freeway in super-slow motion for 45 minutes and then WHAM!, the cab bursts open and a bunch of midgets dressed like geishas jump out and start break dancing! The pace is freakishly slow for the first half of the film, as it concentrates on the most uninteresting protagonist ever and just when you’re ready to say “UNCLE!”, the screen is filled with the worst computer effects you’ve ever seen. The “birds” look like they were created on an old Commodore 64 and there’s almost no setup for this plot shift at all, except for a few random television reports. The film is like a weird homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, with the green Earth message thing thrown in for flavor.
BIRDEMIC’S got it all. Across the boards bad acting? Check. The worst sound design ever recorded? Check. Cinematography by a blind fool with no concept of screen composition? Check. A cheesy musical score performed on a Casio? Check. Lethargic action sequences and cheap ass effects? Check. A random musical number that had the whole audience singing along, “Just hanging out with my family, having ourselves a parrrrrr-ty.” ? Check and mate.
JAMES NGUYEN was at the Cinefamily for a Q and A, last weekend. Not surprisingly, he’s been at all the Cinefamily screenings so far. He’s a 42 year old Vietnamese native, who financed the entire production with the salary from his computer software job and it was filmed over a period of five years. Christ on a cracker!
It seems like suck-cess has gone to MR. NGUYEN’S head because he appeared slightly intoxicated at the Q and A and I detected a hint of arrogance in some of his answers. Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, I guess. He is the ORSON WELLES of shit, after all. Nerd out!