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  Birdemic - Shock and Terror An Incomprehensible Truth
Year: 2010
Director: James Nguyen
Stars: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore, Tippi Hedren, Janae Caster, Colton Osborne, Adam Sessa, Catherine Batcha, Patsy Van Ettinger, Damien Carter, Rick Camp, Stephen Gustavson, Dany Webber, Mona Lisa Moon, Joe Teixeira, Natalie Yonkers, Laura Cassidy
Genre: Horror, Trash, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  2 (from 1 vote)
Review: Rod (Alan Bagh) is out driving one day, driving along the highway to San Jose, taking his time in his environmentally-friendly hybrid car as if there was no rush whatsoever, driving, driving, driving, until he reaches a restaurant. He goes in, checks out the menu then checks out a young woman across at another table who is industriously sawing at her food with her knife. When she gets up to leave, Rod follows her without ordering and accosts her in the street, demanding to know where he has seen her before - then it dawns on him, he used to go to school with her.

And so begins not a terrifying, Hitchcockian roller coaster ride into ecological fury, but a leisurely paced stroll through the life of Rod, our awkward and self-consciously walking hero as his life begins to look up. He gets to go out with the woman, Nathalie (the perpetually cheerful Whitney Moore), he makes a great deal at work, and his plan for a solar panelling business is all set to take off, so what could possibly go wrong? You may well be wondering that for practically half the movie, as aside from foreshadowing so oblique you'd be forgiven for not noticing that there was any, uh, birdemic brewing at all, so when the attacks begin it should be a shock.

Except if you had sought out this film you would be all too aware that a special effects bonanza was approaching as a flock of vultures and eagles are gradually, oh so gradually, making their way to the location of Rod and Nathalie (named for Taylor and Hedren - the latter appears fleetingly on TV, thus third-billed). There's a sense of impending doom, or is that encroaching boredom? The fact remained Birdemic was one of those cult movies that gained attention not for its high quality but for its low camp, with all indications it was made sincerely by its enterprising creator James Nguyen who unwittingly or not staked a claim for being a more appropriate successor to Edward D. Wood Jr than Uwe Boll ever was. It was that unconscious creation of absolute tat which made it memorable.

If this was a joke, it was a straightfaced one, or one that nobody except Nguyen was in on. Whatever, he struck gold with this, enough to fund a sequel among those fans who attended midnight screenings and took great delight in launching catcalls at the screen, revelling in the sheer dreadful banality of what they were witnessing. You could complain bitterly about the elevation of the mediocre to the celebrated in twenty-first century culture, but watching Birdemic you might have thought the aficionados of poor entertainment might well be onto something: after all, acknowledged classics can take a bit of effort to get behind, there's the problem of raised expectations, yet if you knew what you were going to watch was absolute shite how could you possibly be disappointed?

From the opening scenes of a plethora of driving shots, often from a camera from inside Rod's beloved motor at a curious angle accompanied by a repeated clip of orchestral waltz on the soundtrack, you can tell we are in the presence of someone blessed with more enthusiasm than skill. So what if the following hour and a half looks (and sounds) like somebody's home movies? This filmmaker managed what many did not, he found an audience for his work, fair enough, an audience which hoots in derision, but Nguyen gave the impression of simply being pleased to be here. The lunacies were well-catalogued: the obsession with the environment which would set the cause back decades, the embarrassing concept of how anything in the real world of business might operate that even a layman would find hard to believe, and of course that belated apocalypse which saw the most pitifully basic CGI menace the characters, inexplicably exploding birds and all. Essentially, the only sensible reaction was laughter: otherwise, you'd be bored to tears. Music by Andrew Seger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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