Birdemic: Schlock and Errors (yeah, I know...)
James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror begins with a protracted, awkward meet cute that goes on for roughly three hundred years. No, scratch that... James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror begins with a cockeyed view from a dusty dashboard through a smudged car windshield as the credits roll at a glacial pace.
The driver of this car, we soonishly discover, is our hero: Rod... yes. Portrayed by Alan Bagh, who likely did his best work on a wrestling mat in high school, Rod is an enterprising young man with a plug-in hybrid that gets “100 mpg”. Bagh imbues Rod with characteristics and quirks such as: not being able to move like a human being, not being able to properly say words pertaining to his line of work such as “solar panel”, as well as the addition of pauses to decrease dramatic tension. Still, I doubt even Lawrence Olivier could bring a line of dialogue like, “Wow, congratulations! I’m sure you’ll look great in those lingerie” to life.
I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Rod meets a woman he knew in high school, Nathalie, and they hit it off, I think. As portrayed by Whitney Moore, Nathalie’s skin visibly crawls every time Rod interacts with her in any way. Let’s just assume the two leads made this choice to afford themselves more depth with which to play, okay? Acting!!
Rod and Nathalie both have best friends who are dating each other, much to the surprise of our two heroes, because best friends in Nguyen’s world don’t discuss such things. Rod does really well at work. Catches the big fish. He then gets into the solar panel (swarpahl) business and is a total whizz at that too!
Oh, almost forgot to mention that the whole movie is an on-the-nose warning about the potential effects of man-made climate change. Educating folks about the nature of global warming and the need for action is a worthwhile endeavor to be applauded. That being said, this isn’t the movie you wanna be showing to deniers and saying, “See grandpa?! It’s real!”
Anyway, climate change is what brings the aforementioned “Birdemic” to the sleepy Bay Area community, and aren’t you sorry now? I am. See, the “birds” are very un-special effects... think Windows 95’s flying toasters with WWII bomber sound effects. The “birds” hover and move when the camera pans. The “birds” all make the same sounds, have the same coloration, and are filled with fucking acid, bro!
Rod and Nathalie, after a night of passionate, underwear on, lovemaking, awake to discover that the world has changed! Ferocious killer birds are everywhere and killing everyone... or at least some people at a shitty motel and some tourists on a bus. They meet up with a very serious guy, militarily fatigued Ramsey, and his shit-taking girlfriend Becky, grab some coat hangers and head for the van. They then stand outside the van swinging at “we’ll fix it in post” birds for awhile.
Everything in this movie happens for awhile. It takes awhile to drive the van to a roadside stop and pick up some recently orphaned, yet awfully quick to rally, kids, while cars roll by like they’re on a Sunday drive. It takes awhile to buy gas at an exorbitant rate from a mush-mouthed attendant. It takes awhile to make it through a forest filled with mountain lions and digital fire. It takes awhile to interact with “Tree Hugger” and rediscover the beauty of nature and bad wigs.
Eventually the birds just... go away, as the credits roll and our heroes hold each other tight, looking off into a gray ocean, unsure of their futures... or ours. See how I just tried to add some depth again? I’m pullin’ for ya, guy! James Nguyen has absolutely, positively no talent. Name a thing that people do in movies (write, shoot, direct, edit, cast, etc.) and it’s obvious the man simply can’t do it. Every single decision is wrong. It’s hilarious, and must be seen to be believed. The only element that isn’t fun about this one is the stilted slowness of its first hour. Still, this is another one that’ll stand up over time. If Birdemic: Shock and Terror is not quite up there with The Room or Samurai Cop, it’s certainly not for lack of trying.