- Movie: Birdemic: Shock and Terror
- Director: James Nguyen
- Starring: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore
- Rotten Tomato Rating: 20%
A Little Context
This might be the most poorly made movie I’ve ever seen, just to get that out there up front. I think the biggest reason why I didn’t like “Snakes On A Plane” was that it seemed to wink a little too hard at the audience. You can’t force a bad movie, you need to get the sense that someone genuinely tried. That’s what makes them so great. Someone really tried. “Birdemic” is so terribly constructed that I’ve known people to think it is intentional–that there is no way anyone would ever say to themselves “yep, it’s finished.” Unfortunately, we’ll never really know if James Nguyen is sincere when he says it’s a real attempt.
For his sake, “Birdemic” is, at best, a masterclass in the fake bad movie–and he accomplished it with a budget 3000 times less than “Snakes On A Plane. And, at worst, it may very well be the worst movie of all time.
Take a look at the trailer:
Did you catch the quote from “IMDB User Review”? Did you see “Master of the Romatic Thriller(tm)? Yep, that’s a legal trademark.
“Birdemic” focuses on software engineer Rod and fashion model Nathalie. The two former classmates bump into each other years later and begin dating. Unbeknownst to the couple, strange things start going on around them, things that would indicate something is off in the environment. Birds are dying, polar bears are dying–scary stuff. The two decide to take their relationship to the next level and have sex at a hotel (for some reason). They wake up the next day to find all hell has broken loose–birds are attacking their town. Birds with powers such as exploding and acid spitting.
In case you couldn’t tell, this movie’s budget was just under $10,000. I think when you consider that fact, it becomes obvious that this film is indeed authentically bad. If “The Room” was an effort by an incompetent filmmaker that wasn’t limited by budget (“The Room” cost $6 million to make), then “Birdemic” is an effort by an incompetent filmmaker with a microscopic budget.
Kudos to James Nguyen for actually making a film that cheaply. That being said, there are a lot of problems with the movie that I would have thought you could fix in editing, regardless of your budget. Let’s take an example from early in the film: Rod walking down a sidewalk. Even if you haven’t really thought about it, I think most people understand that a long, multiple-angle shot of someone walking is probably done in segments–especially depending on the number of cameras you have. The actor walks a little bit, they movie the camera, the actor walks a little more, etc. To make these shots seamless, you would edit out the frames of film where the actor actually starts moving. The end result is one continuous shot of someone walking and, despite the changing camera angles, there is continuity to his walk. Basic stuff here. This movie fails at that.
Next up: sound. It’s fairly obvious that the microphones used on this movie were fairly low quality. It sucks, but I understand. What I don’t understand is the kind of stuff that should have been fixable with any kind of editing software. I wanted to include a drinking rule where you had to drink every time you heard absolute silence between talking, but you’d be passed out within 20 minutes. Also, be prepared to either not really hear something, or jump from how loud certain things are.
One of the most glaring aspects of the film from the trailer is the awfulness of the special effects. They’re so bad that it does call into question how intentional the bad really is in “Birdemic.” It appears as though someone found some kind of stock gif of an eagle, cut it out, and just pasted into the film. Nothing reacts to anything. Birds are repeated within the same frame. Lighting doesn’t match the scene. It really does just look like the bird animations were done separately, and then just stuck into the movie. A little digging revealed that apparently the film’s director James Nguyen contracted a special effects guy to make the birds for the film. However, because Nguyen never actually paid the guy, he just used placeholder effects for the final version. True or not, the director has stated in an interview with Vice that the eagle and vulture effects were done for “a few hundred bucks.” It certainly shows.
As the film is a morality tale, it is littered with messaging. Rod drives an environmentally friendly car (a Ford Mustang), “An Inconvenient Truth” is mentioned, solar power is talked about, “give peace a chance,” etc. etc. And it of course ends on an attempt at poignancy that ends up just being confusing.
But Can I Drink To It?
Yes. In fact, you can rest assured knowing that any drinking rule you can come up with will probably be extremely successful.
Anytime Rod messes up a word or doesn’t react to something – DRINK for 3 seconds! (sorry)
“Imagine Peace” – DRINK for 5 seconds!
Awkward board room clapping – DRINK for as long as it’s occurring! (sorry)
“Hanging out with my family” scene – DRINK/CHUG a full beer!
Here is the edition I watched and where you can find it: Birdemic: Shock and Terror blu ray for $30 (but most likely discounted for quite a bit), but I would recommend finding it digitally for cheaper.
Post by: Tyler P.
Tyler Phillippi is a former improviser and musician. Now, he mainly focuses on getting through his Netflix queue. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org