Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008)
Written and Directed by James Nguyen
Run Time: 90 minutes
|Rod (Allen Bagh)
Salesman, eco-warrior, and fisherman. Rod manages to survive the “birdemic” mostly by luck rather than smarts, and certainly not by acting.
|Nathalie (Whitney Moore)
Mandatory love interest and hot-chick. Fair enough.
|Rick (Colton Osborne)
Rick the sexaholic, annoying guy. Will the birds kill him?…tough question.
Summary: Global warming leads to exploding, acid-spitting birds.
How is it possible? Was this movie meant to be a cruel joke? What twisted mind can have even conceived of a production as horrid as Birdemic? Sure, we could place the blame solely on writer/director and self-proclaimed "Master of Romantic Thrillers" James Nguyen; and granted it is his name that graces this cover. Yet to believe that any single human being could be responsible for this catastrophe without direct aide from the deeper rings of Hell would be naive.
Open with a long sequence of highway shots, and random cars driving around. Oh, I guess that’s our hero, Rod, in the blue sports car. At least that’s what I’m guessing since the camera lingers on it from time to time.
And…he’s driving to work. Yep. Still driving. Just to make sure you realize he’s driving, we cut to a hand-cam POV shot of him driving. (Manos could only dream of having as much driving as this movie!)
Boy, this is one well-established driving scene. What’s it been now? 4 minutes!! I hate this movie already.
This is insane! We’re still in a POV driving shot!
Oh. Wait. Cut to some dumb city and…whoa! He’s parking! Heart…be still! Rod climbs out of his car and struts into a nearby diner where he spots a beautiful girl, Nathalie.
By the way, I’m just going to mention it now: the editing in this movie is absolutely terrible. No. Let’s add a capital "T" to that: it’s Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. Jump cuts abound where scenes should have been extended, scenes drag on forever where they should have been cut, people are cut off in mid-sentence, the camera focuses on people who aren’t talking while other characters talk off screen, which might be useful to show the actor’s emotions to what is being said to them, but since there is no acting in this film, it’s just like watching a still picture with an audio track. Oh, and since the movie was shot on a budget of $10,000, the entire sound track was recording using the camera’s mic, making for some very strange audio effects. It’s like something Ed Wood would have made if he’d had a tighter budget.
Back with Rod and Nathalie. After finishing her food, Nathalie abruptly leaves while Rod quickly follows her outside. After a short interval, Rod finally catches up to her and introduces himself. During their short, dull conversation they discover that they both attended the same school and blah blah blah. Even more incredibly stilted small talk ensues and I’m really becoming nervous at this point because I’m already getting a headache. Anyhoo, Rod says that he’ll get in touch with her later as Nathalie mentions that she has a modeling audition to get to and takes her leave.
Meet-cute complete. Now where are the freakin’ birds?
Jump cut to Rod eating breakfast and watching TV. (Huh?! Is this the next day? What?) A news report informs us that some "crows and seagulls" have been found dead on a highway. Boy, that’s a breaking news story, all right. The TV anchorwoman immediately segues into a story about the dwindling polar bear population (what is this? The All Nature News Network?) due to global warming. So, yeah, we get it, global warming is now officially Birdemic’s Message To Humanity…we better all watch out and cut our carbon footprint or else we’re going to be attacked by crows.
After breakfast, Rod ambles outside, gets in his car and…aiiiiyeeeeeee! more driving! NOOOOOO! why? Why?! WHY?! There’s even a cut scene of him pumping gas! What does it mean? What have I done to deserve this? Hoo boy! You thought POV driving scenes were exciting? Well…feast your eyes on a POV traffic jam! YEEEEAAAH BABY! I love this movie. We can only bow our heads in collective reverence at the film maker’s courage to include a traffic jam scene. It’s pure genius!
Yes, the excitement of a POV traffic jam.
Now let’s join Rod at work, shall we? You see Rod is a extremely talented salesman for Generic Co., or Conglom Corp. or something, as can be seen by watching Rod make a huge sale from his draconian cubical.
"What does it take to make the sale?", Rod says into the phone.
After a moment’s pause he responds with a killer offer:"OK, I’ll give you that and fifty percent off!"
This amazing bartering session closes the deal and Rod celebrates with an apathetic "woo-hoo!"
Hearing the commotion from down the hall, Rod’s friend, Rick, pops in to see what’s going on. Rod explains that he just closed a $1,000,000 deal, "The biggest sale of my career!" But since he just gave them 50% off, didn’t he actually just lose a million dollars? Sure, whatever, and seriously, somebody put this guy is in charge of multi-million dollar clients? Give me a break.
Rod celebrates losing his company a million dollars.
Moving on to Nathalie’s photo shoot at the luxurious "My Studio – 1 Hour Photo"…yeah, the one next to the mini-mart with the "ICE COLD BEER" sign in the window. (Hey, Nathalie, you might want to switch agencies…)
Nathalie’s career is definitely on the up and up.
I have to admit, I was hoping to see a little skin during the photo shoot, but it’s unfortunately boring and way too tame: mostly bizarre green kimonos and such. (Even the Casio-keyboard cover version of "Photograph" by Flock of Seagulls couldn’t save this scene. Actually the music during the photo shoot is an ever-so-slightly modified version of that song, probably to avoid having to pay copyright fees.)
I heard that green kimonos are in this year.
Cut to the "Dream Models" agency where Natalie’s agent struggles to type on a Dell laptop. (I assume Dell is suing the producers for sullying their brand name in this movie.)
But wait! Good news for Nathalie! Her agent calls her up and informs her that she’s been chosen for a Victoria’s Secret contract. Despite the shock of this abrupt ascension from "My Studio – 1 Hour Photo" to Victoria’s Secret, Nathalie keeps her cool, "Thanks for getting me the gig," she says before hanging up.
Meanwhile, on a whim, Rod calls Nathalie to see how she’s doing. When she tells him about her new Victoria’s Secret "gig", smooth-talker Rod can’t help but shout "Wow! I think you’d look great in those lingerie!" To celebrate Nathalie’s new contract, Rod invites her to dinner at "that delicious Vietnamese restaurant", to which she happily agrees. (you know…that restaurant.)
Cut to see Rod and Rick playing some hoops, but they have to call it quits because it’s so unusually hot. Rod wonders if it’s all because of global warming. (Gee, Rod, could it be that warm because you live in Southern California? Idiots.)
While taking a break in a nearby shady spot, Rod tells Rick all about his new found friend, Nathalie.
"I hope you score with her, man," says Rick with an oily grin. (Yeah, ok, boys will be boys, but man…take it easy, Rick.)
Trying to change the subject, Rod, apparently unaware of SEC American Insider Trading laws, casually informs Rick that their company is about to be bought out by Oracle. (Huh?! Would Oracle ever have anything to do with these 2 clowns?)
"Then we’ll all be…millionaires!" chortles Rick with a pathetic white-guy fist pump.
Later that day, Rod gets a visit from a solar panel salesman. After a little haggling the deal is closed.
Now, you may be asking yourself the same question I’m asking myself:
What’s the freakin’ point of all this!?
Is it that Rod is an eco-friendly "green" kind of guy? Well if he’s so environmentally conscious, then why the hell does he drive a 5.0 liter Mustang instead of taking the bus? (Not to mention the motor boat sitting in his driveway…yeah, real eco-friendly, Rod.)
Later that weekend, Nathalie meets Rod at the aforementioned "delicious Vietnamese restaurant" where they engage in some tedious small talk. After a bit of mandatory, bile-inducing flirting, Nathalie and Rod have officially Hit It Off and decide to take a walk in the park. After strolling across the screen (since there’s no budget for a camera dolly…), the amorous pair stop to admire a trio of atrociously rendered CGI parrots flapping motionless in the air like oversized hummingbirds. (I tried to get a decent screen shot of them, but was unable to. Never fear…there are plenty of screen shots to come (evil laughter).) I’m not sure if this was meant to be portentous, but it’s pretty damned funny.
And…the movie grinds on and still no killer birds yet. Nathalie tells her mom that she met a swell guy with a lot of money. ("You go, girl!", mom erupts.) Oh, and Nathalie sets up a double date with her girlfriend, Mai who just so happens to be Rick’s girlfriend. What are the odds, eh? (If you didn’t follow that, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter.)
The next day, Rod and Rick learn that their company has in fact been bought out by Oracle for a billion dollars. (A billion!!!???) So now they’re rich. Hooray.
This is really a strange movie in a way. (OK, in a lot of ways.) There is a lot of focus on money, cash, stock options, etc, as well as the whole global warming angle. It’s a weird combination that really doesn’t make much sense, i.e., what is the theme here? Global warming is dangerous or cash is king?
You go, boy!
Well, the answer is seemingly "Cash is King" as we are subjected to yet another sleazy scene where Rick explains how Rod better buy a Ferrari if he ever hopes to "get in Nathalie’s pants". (You know, I think I hate Rick more than Rod. I really do.) Much to Rick’s chagrin, Rod isn’t interested in using his newfound wealth on a car. "She is my Ferrari," Rod oozes referring to Nathalie, "besides, my Mustang is a plug-in hybrid." (Oh. Sure it is, Rod. Sure it is. Then how come we never see you plug it in?)
Later that evening we see the 2 couples leaving a movie theater after seeing, yep, "An Inconvenient Truth". (Wow, Rod, nothing like showing your girlfriend an Al Gore flick to get her in the mood. Way to go, Romeo.) Yes, it appears that our ex-VP’s powers of persuasion are as strong as ever since even Rick, confirmed Ferrari fan and sexaholic, has fallen under Gore’s spell and vows to buy a hybrid car ASAP…but first he has to take Mai back to the apartment for some "sensual work". (Good grief)
The next day we watch Rod hard at work at his new green-tech company Mass Solar. In a conference room we join the excitement in progress as Rod attempts to drum up money from a room full of investors, and wow, if you thought watching somebody drive was boring, try listening to somebody sell solar panels.
More Birdemic excitement!
"Contingent on the terms in our agreement," says the lead investor at the end of Rod’s presentation, "We’re going to fund you [ten million dollars]!"
"Awesome!" Rod shouts. (Man, what a pro…)
Next day (I think, continuity is not this movie’s strong point), Rod and Nathalie spend the afternoon at the "Art and Pumpkin Festival". (…Art and what festival?), where we are forced to watch them stare at, well, art and pumpkins.
Will the excitement ever end?
Uh oh. I feel a rant coming on:
Note to future filmmakers: THIS IS NOT EXCITING! Why are there more pumpkins in this movie than birds???!!! The movie is not called Pumpkindemic! Let’s have some action already! Sheesh!!!
After the Pumpkin Festival From Hell, they decide to take a stroll on the beach. Unfortunately for the viewer, the wind was blowing so hard during filming that you can hardly hear their lines. But maybe that’s a good thing. Anyway, they come across a really bad dead CGI bird in the sand,
"STOP! Don’t touch it! It could be infectious!" Rod shouts with unwarranted alarm.
I guess this was supposed to be a "bum! Bum! Bum!" moment, but we’ll never know because we fade back to Nathalie’s mom’s house where she introduces Rod to her mother. After sitting down on the sofa, they begin talking about retirement plans!…S-N-O-R-E! Who could have possibly thought that this was interesting? What the hell?!
But, hey! They’re now on another date (i.e., jump cut) where they:
1) Order a beer.
2) Talk about dating.
3) Dance to a horrendously lip-synced song.
Rod shows Nathalie his new moves.
Finally, finally something interesting: they head to a nearby hotel where Nathalie gives Rod an impromptu peek at the
she’ll be modeling for Victoria’s Secret. (Where’d she get her outfit from if they are at a hotel? Did she bring it with her in her purse? And why are they at a hotel if both of them have houses?)
Anyway, Rod and Nathalie plop down onto the bed and commence a revolting make-out session, but we thankfully cut to the next morning where all seems quiet…BUT WAIT! Jump cut to a massive attack consisting of screeching CGI birds which dive bomb buildings and explode on impact! (Complete with a dive-bombing airplane’s propeller drone!)
Yep, global warming leads to exploding birds.
It’s Armageddon! It’s Mother Nature taking vengeance on man! It’s…It’s…
It’s really, really bad.
Dive bombing, exploding birds?! I mean…really? This was caused by global warming?!
Meanwhile, Rod and Nathalie wake up (still fully dressed! Nothing like waking up refreshed after a long night of dry humping…) only to discover they’re trapped inside their hotel room by a group of hovering eagles!!!.
Yes, eagles can slowly flap their wings and hover in mid air. Man, that global warming sure is a bitch, aint it?
Wisely, Rod and Nathalie barricade the window with their bed. (Nathalie, still clad in here lingerie, eagerly lends a hand. Ms. Moore, the Monster Shack staff would like to thank you for the additional underwear footage.)
Nobody seems to notice that the bed covers only the bottom half of the window, but, meh, whatever, Rod, whatever.
At least they can’t get in through the bottom half of the window.
Later that day, the birds mysteriously disappear ("Maybe they got tired," Rod proposes), so Nathalie and Rod slink to the neighboring room where they meet another young couple, Ramsey and Becky. (Boy, this hotel sure seems to have a thriving pay-by-the-hour business from the local youth.) After a round of introductions, Rod explains that he’s lost his car keys (what, during the 10-foot walk from your adjoining room?), so Ramsey offers to let them hitch a ride with them in his van. Before they head to the parking lot, Ramsey suggests that they arm themselves with coat hangers (!) from the closet. Alas, despite their precautions, a bunch of eagles swoop down and hover above their heads where they are easily swatted down by a barrage of coat hanger blows.
The classic coat hanger defense.
Once inside the van, Ramsey pulls out an M-16 from the back of the van (WHAT?!) and gives Rod a not-so-manly, but still effective, Glock. Armed to the teeth, the foursome drives off to…I don’t know…escape the birds or something.
"Hey there’s dead people on the side of the road," notes Ramsey, "let’s see if there’s any survivors." (Not to be overly pedantic here, but if they’re dead then the chances would be pretty low for finding survivors, right?) After pulling over to the side of the road, the guys hop out to investigate while Nat and Becky cover them from the van.
(It’s not helping this film’s verisimilitude by having tons of normal everyday traffic driving by in the opposite lane…sheesh!)
Let’s just pretend that traffic isn’t there.
Well I’ll be damned…there were survivors: two scratched up kids, Susan and Tony.
This movie’s enthusiasm is absolutely contagious, isn’t it?
"I’m hungry, I’ve been under the car for a long time," Susan complains without showing too much concern for her parents who were recently pecked to death by dive-bombing eagles. To alleviate the children’s hunger, Rod pulls into an abandoned convenience store where they stock up on supplies, notably candy, water, and cheese. Then, under a fierce aerial attack ("Hurry! The eagles are coming back!") they run back to the van and speed off down the highway only to…and I kid you not…stop for a picnic!!!
Let me repeat: Stop for a picnic!
There’s always time for a picnic.
After eating and taking a bathroom break (was it really necessary to film that?), Rod astutely observes "an old guy" on a nearby bridge.
After a casual walk over to said bridge, the guy orders Rod and Nathalie to keep their distance from a nearby bird corpse because they are "contaminated with Bird Flu virus." (This is so stupid I can’t even comment on it.) The old guy, Dr. Jonas, agrees to accompany Rod and Nathalie back to the picnic area to discuss the recent events. So, with a somber musical score to underscore the doc’s Heavy Message, Jonas explains how global warming is the cause of the latest viral outbreaks "such as Bird Flu, West Nile virus, and SARS"…(oh brother), but he doesn’t know why the birds are actually attacking people. (Not to mention how they can explode!!!)
"But," Jonas adds, "in prehistoric times, birds did attack cave men." (Dennis smacks palm into his forehead at this point.)
Dr. Jonas. Cave man expert.
After Jonas finishes his clumsy speech, Rod and the others take their leave and continue down the road before taking another pause so Becky can, and I quote, "take a shit."
Unfortunately for Becky, her decision to take a bowel movement proves to be fatal as an eagle swoops down out of the blue just as she squats down. Nathalie manages to kill the bird but not before it dispatches Becky with a slash to the throat.
Becky chooses a particularly bad time to take a crap.
After regaining their composer ("The fucking eagles killed Becky!" sobs Ramsey), the survivors continue onward to the next adventure. This time it’s a tour bus under attack.
Tour Bus Attack! caw! caw!
You’d think that the tour would’ve been called off because of the recent avian Armageddon, but there you have it. Ramsey and Rod pull up to rescue the trapped tourists by firing blinding at the birds which are hovering directly in front of the buses windows. Amazingly, not a single bullet misses its target or goes through a bird’s body and strikes the people trapped inside. That’s some damned good marksmanship, I tell ya.
In a truly ironic moment, assuming that this film is actually capable of irony, Ramsey drags the terrified passengers out of the relative safety of the bus and into the parking lot where they are promptly attacked by the birds! Nice rescue, Ramsey.
Just when I thought I’d seen it all, the birds spit a bunch of acid !!! on Ramsey and the tourists, temporarily blinding them and making them easy prey for their lethal beaks.
Exploding birds. Acid spitting birds. Damn! I hate global warming.
With Ramsey’s ill-fated rescue mission at an end, Rod, Nathalie and the kids do the only thing the writers could think of: drive down the highway to the next action sequence. This time, the birds attack Rod at a gas station while topping off his tank, but he manages to duck into the van and drive away before being pecked to death. Damn.
(I thought it was odd that Rod could pay for the gas with a credit card even though phone lines were down…go figure.)
As mentioned above, this movie doesn’t really know where it’s going, so the "plot" is basically driving from bird attack to bird attack. This time, they stop to help a guy stranded at the side of the road who promptly pulls a gun and steals Rod’s reserve fuel canister from the back of the van. Needless to say, a bird swoops down and kills the bad guy. Hurray. What excitement. Rod jumps back into the van and drives off...leaving the gas behind! Idiot!
Uh, Rod…you’re forgetting something…
Sooooo…after driving down the road some more, ack! Rod decides to stop by a creek and get some fresh water. (Obviously Rod has forgotten that he just bought water at the gas station in the previous scene, but hey, let’s cut Rod some slack this late in the game.)
Anyway, while filling up their water bottles, a creepy tree-hugger guy (wearing an extremely obvious fake wig) comes out of the underbrush and begins a long spiel about global warming, bark beetles, drought, etc. etc. It’s pretty bizarre, and frankly, if I were Rod I would have grabbed the kids and gotten the hell away from this dude as quickly as possible.
Note to self: People to keep far away from…
"I hear a mountain lion, you better get back to your car!" Tree Hugger advises as a foleyed lion growl fills the air. (!)
And….they run back to the car. But now there’s a forest fire!
WHAT?! I’m totally losing it now. Did the freakin’ birds start it? (The only redeeming factor in this scene is that the pathetic CGI "forest fire" animation stops slightly before the scene ends, so the fire abruptly disappears while they’re still running down the road…ha! I love it!)
The amazing disappearing forest fire.
Well, we all know what happens next. Yep. They start driving down the road and quickly come across Rick’s car pulled off to the side of the road. What a small world, eh? A quick look inside the vehicle reveals the bodies of Rick and Mai. Oh…the humanity! By the way, this scene is such a total freakin’ after thought since the writers forgot about Rod’s friends, that it makes me physically ill when I consider the gall needed to include it. Ack! Ack! Ack!
A little bit down the road Rod runs out of gas. So, hey, doofus, remember that gas can you left on the side of the road 10 minutes ago?…I bet you regret that now, don’t you?
"Maybe somebody will drive by and help us," says Rod. Well, Rod, actually people have been driving by the entire movie because the producer couldn’t afford to block off traffic during filming, but let’s pretend we didn’t notice that. When the kids start to complain that they’re hungry again (still no mention of mommy or daddy, I guess they’re still in denial), Rod is forced into action and discovers a fishing pole in the back of the van. (A "Deus Ex Deluxe" model fishing pole to be sure.)
Sooooooo….while Nathalie and the kids frolic on the beach, Rod goes a’fishing, manages to land a decent size catch, all of which results in a tasty fish-n-seaweed combo. (The kids understandably demand Happy Meals.) I guess this has something to do with the plot, but I’m just too tired right now to figure it all out.
This cozy lunch is interrupted when the eagles return; this time to surround the van and flap about while screeching like no eagles I’ve ever heard before. As Rod runs out of bullets, things look pretty bleak. (For some reason the eagles don’t just fly into the van via the open side door, but whatever.) Sensing that there is no way to resolve this mess, the writers simply have the birds call off the attack and fly out over the ocean (…to Monster Island and join Godzilla? Who the hell knows.)
Wrapping things up…Birdemic style.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Cue triumphant music as the survivors recite their inspiring closing lines:
"I wonder why the birds stopped their attack?" murmurs Nathalie as she stares into the distance.
Rod, gazing into the sky, "I don’t know."
The End (whew!)
Dennis Grisbeck (May 2011)
By the way…if you didn’t believe me when I said that this movie is bad, well, here’s some "hi-lites" for ya’:
What the hell? Was this a joke? I don’t know; how could anybody willingly make a movie so utterly awful? Could anybody mean to have made something this atrocious? What is wrong with the world? How could something like this be allowed to exist?
Special Monster Shack Alert “Birdemic II: The Resurrection 3D” is currently in production! HUZZUH!