‘Birdemic’: Get thee to a theater, now!
As a proud devotee of bottom-feeding cinema, a film like “Birdemic: Shock and Terror,” is like a French kiss from God herself.
I am not talking about the countless toilet-dwelling turds that populate the SyFy network, winking, self-aware Troma trash or mockbusters from The Asylum studio. No, I mean true, unintentional, devotion to the soul-suckingly wretched. These precious pictures are reserved for the likes of infamously horrid helmsman Ed Wood, “The Room,” or any film deemed worthy of the connoisseurs of crap, the gang at Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Writer/editor/director James Nguyen, welcome to the club.
Earnest to a fault (I urge you to check out the film’s website.Go ahead. I will wait), Birdemic plays it poker-faced throughout. It’s mind-boggling that there is a turnip truck large enough to carry the cast and crew that makes stops in Los Angeles, but yet, there is evidence throughout.
Led by Alan Bagh, whose sweaty attempt to speak English seems to affect everything about his performance, down to his constipated, awkward gait, there is nary a person involved who escapes this endeavor unscathed. Bagh (whose bio on the film’s site details his talent with the following two sentences: “Bagh is a talented actor. ‘Birdemic’ is his Alan’s first feature film.”) plays Rod, a software engineer-turned-environmentalist after watching “An Inconvenient Truth” who falls for Nathalie, a fashion model (whose latest prestigious gig is located at a One Hour Photo shop that also apparently serves “Ice Cold Beer”). Nathalie is played by Whitney Moore, who may or may not have some shred of talent, but it certainly cannot be discerned by the stunningly stilted lines she’s required to deliver.
Their courtship takes up the first 45 minutes of the film, from dinners in which they demonstrate their mad dancing skills (she actually does The Robot, he merely dances like one), stroll along the beach (in which most of their conversation is indecipherable due to a hearty breeze whistling through the boom mike), and meet for tea with her morbidly obese mother who retired because she “likes to watch TV.”
At this point, I must clarify, this is not a comedy by intention.
They consummate their relationship by inexplicably heading to a cheap motel (even though these two wildly successful kids apparently live on their own), and we at least get a glimpse of Moore’s true talents ensconced in lingerie.
And then, all hell breaks loose, both literally and figuratively. Global warming has apparently caused an avian flu outbreak (which we learn from a random, gun-toting science-y guy who provides Wikipedia-inspired factoids to our cast). The result? Flocks of eagles and vultures become fierce, dive-bombing WMDs (Wings of Mass Destruction). They carry with them not only skills of predatorial precision, but can also explode on impact.
Again, not a comedy.
Yet these are no ordinary computer-generated avian. Not since Nintendo’s “Duck Hunt” have we seen animation of this skill and technicality. They are truly a spectacle to behold (and they can be beheld in the trailer for the film right here). Like an old Flintstones episode in which characters repeatedly run past the same background, the same animated attack birdies descend upon the town with little regard to size ratio, logic or physics. There is little doubt that after watching these scenes you will not experience the “shock” of its title.
Nguyen has a mastery of English that is equaled only by his skills as a director/writer/editor. Each and every transition lingers two seconds too long as its actors sit in hysterically uncomfortable silence. Forget pregnant pauses, the dialogue had enough time between exchanges to give birth.
I have not even touched upon “Birdemic’s” many artistic flourishes contained within – the helpful handsome strangers who casually tote semi-automatic weapons, the news horridly wigged “tree hugger,” the “Imagine Peace” poster, the one-man band, the soundtrack courtesy of some cheap royalty-free site. “Birdemic,” much like an anti-”Avatar” (“Avia-tar?”), must not be seen, but experienced. The film’s site lists a schedule of upcoming screenings (most appropriately scheduled for the midnight hour). Do yourself a favor and reserve your spot at a nearby theater today, as films like this in today’s internet age do not come along often. You can thank me later.