BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR
* * * * * (2008, 98 minutes, Unrated)
GIFs Gone Wild
It’s nice to know that, four years and over 200 bad movies later, I can still be surprised.
Oh, I’d heard a little bit about Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Heard that it was one of the worst films
ever. But to be honest, I hear that about a lot of movies, and it’s not like there’s a shortage of wooden
acting, cheesy dialogue, nonsensical storylines or inept special effects out there.
But this movie… This movie is something special.
Birdemic is like a brain-damaged love letter to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. In fact, the plots are
virtually identical: Boy and Girl Meet Cute and spend the first half of the film getting to know each other.
Suddenly, all of the birds go wild and viciously attack everyone, and it’s up to our budding couple to do
what they can to survive. But while the plots to The Birds and Birdemic are the same, the execution is
This may be the most thoroughly incompetent film I’ve ever seen. There is no part of the film that isn’t
bungled -- that includes sequences as simple as “man walks into a diner.”
Where to begin? The score aims to be reminiscent of the music found in many of Hitchcock’s films,
but often shows up at inappropriate times. The audio is a mess, with ambient noise often drowning
out the dialogue. The dialogue isn’t quotably bad, but is spoken as if the entire script was translated
from another language. And the editing is jarring and haphazard, often holding a shot for a second or
two too long and then abruptly cutting unnecessarily to a different angle. The overall effect gives the
flow of the film a strange stutter, as if it has to actively work to move through time.
There’s a rather notorious boardroom scene that’s an excellent example of this editing gone wrong:
Long shot of a typical conference room, where the CEO is introduced. He announces that the
company has been bought out for a billion dollars. Joyous music swells, and everyone is clapping.
And clapping. And the people on this side of the table, they’re clapping, too. The music dies down…
and then starts right up again! More clapping! And high-fiving! And these people are clapping! And
those two over there! The music starts to die down agai-- no, it’s back! And there’s more clapping!
At least the boardroom scene is relevant to the overall flow of the story. What are we to make of
sequences such as the one where our hero, Rod, heads out to the office? We see Rod exit his
house, climb into his new Mustang and slowly pull out of the driveway. We see Rod work his way
through thick traffic. We see Rod pull into a gas station and pump gas. After sitting in more traffic, we
see Rod finally pull into the parking lot and head into the office building... and walk through the lobby...
We then cut to the world’s most awkward make-out session, complete with an extra helping of footsie.
Hey, you know what I haven’t even touched on yet? The birds. Much like in the Hitchcock film, around the
halfway point we find ourselves hip deep in a birdocalypse. Only here, the birds are clumsy GIFs dotted
around the screen. Awesomely, at times the birds sound like WWII fighter planes when flying around, explode
on contact and even puke acid.
Fortunately for our heroes, those birds are nothing that can’t be kept at bay with some coat hangers.
I’d heard people put Birdemic on the same level as Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Room, and I’d have to
agree. Much like Plan 9 and The Room, there is something compelling about how thoroughly inept this film
is. Birdemic also delivers a big social message -- the dangers of global warming -- with all the delicacy of a
head butt to the nose, much like Plan 9 (the dangers of nuclear arms) and The Room (the dangers of being
as great a guy as Tommy Wiseau) before it.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a cinematic train wreck -- you can only marvel at how epically bad it is.
Let’s talk about Rod for a minute. Rod is an environmentally conscious software salesman played by “Alan
Bagh.” I’ve put his name in quotes because I’m still not convinced that “Alan Bagh” is a real human.
At the risk of sounding like a typical Internet troll -- hey, I’m no threat to Jon Stewart’s job -- “Alan Bagh” might
be the most unnatural actor I’ve ever seen. His line delivery, the way he interacts with the other actors, simply
how he carries himself, all have the same kind of stiffness one would expect to find in a video game cut scene.
Consider this moment, when Nathalie steps out in some choice lingerie (also, you’re welcome). You’d think
that Rod was being operated by remote-control.