Birdemic: Shock and Terror

James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror
Friday, January 28, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Saturday, January 29, 2011 at 9:30 PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque

Plays with Jaimz Asmundson’s Goths On A Bus!

As funny as the equally inept The Room (but much less well known) this eco horror film must be seen to be believed. Earnest self taught filmmaker James Nguyen, a software salesman channels Hitchcock – and not very well – his story of how a mass of dive bombing vultures and eagles launch an inexplicable attack on Northern California. Nguyen’s crude special effects may have set back the art of CGI 30 years.

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From Uptown Magazine January 26, 2010

See this movie because it’s bad — really bad
Birdemic: Shock and Terror is an uproariously entertaining “movie” that reaches new depths in cinematic badness

The question isn’t whether this movie equals The Room, the modern pinnacle of cinematic badness. It’s whether it’s more entertainingly bad.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror, originally released in 2008, is actually much worse than director Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 monument to cognitive dissonance. (James Nguyen, the software salesman-turned-director of this film, likewise doesn’t seem to understand how terrible his baby really is.)

A wannabe nature-runs-amok thriller in the vein of The Birds, which it cheerfully rips off, this movie’s “plot” concerns young lovers (Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore) who fight for survival after a series of destructive attacks by predatory birds.

What sets Birdemic above — or, perhaps, below — The Room is the sheer, all-encompassing expanse of its badness. Wiseau’s film may look like a soft-core porn film, but at least it reflects some basic measure of professionalism. It was only excruciatingly bad in some respects — namely, in the writing, directing and acting. Perhaps that’s why it was such a chore for this critic to sit through (although I’d love to see it with an audience someday).

Birdemic, by contrast, is bad in every way. The sound recording is hopeless. The simplest camera moves are like seizures. The editing lacks all pretense of finesse, with the soundtrack fading in and out with every cut.

Another bad film locally screened last fall, Turkish Star Wars, is in the same spirit as the films my friends and I made in high school: it cleverly intercuts footage from better movies and uses cheap-but-creative solutions like trampolines to make characters seemingly fly.

Nguyen’s film looks and plays exactly like the films we made. It really does function on that level — and that’s what’s funny about it.

Nguyen has clearly seen enough films to in some abstract way understand concepts of pacing and storytelling. Yet something has gotten seriously garbled in the transmission from mind to hand when it comes to execution.

Perhaps it’s not even accurate to call Birdemic a movie, but rather a mere facsimile; to call it one is to mangle the very definition.

There’s no limit to the examples one could cite to illustrate the point. Simple scenes in which characters get in cars and drive to work are interminable; it’s not padding, it’s that Nguyen doesn’t understand his own intent. He also doesn’t recognize how inept an “actor” Bagh truly is. Or how hysterically nonsensical some of his writing is — like when the characters enjoy a picnic lunch while on the run from killer birds.

And then there’s the birds themselves. The quality of the CGI is near indescribable. What’s even better is how some of the birds seemingly explode with impact.

But to end on the highest (or lowest?) possible note, I present the film’s crowning exchange of dialogue:

“Where’s Becky?” one character inquires about his wife.

“She’s taking a shit,” Bagh replies.

Fin.

– Kenton Smith

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~ by cineflyer on January 28, 2011.

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