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I Bet You Didn’t See… Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Updated: Jan 13

Directed by: James Nguyen

Screenplay by: James Nguyen

Starring: Alan Bagh, Whitney Moore, Janae Caster, Colton Osbourne, Adam Sessa

Released: February 27, 2010

My Rating: -10/10


Contains Spoilers – these may save your life.


OH MY GOODNESS I cannot express how bad this film is! Actually, I can. It’s been rated -10 out of 10… that should tell you everything.


But as you’ve started reading, I will save you the wasting of time by telling you everything now.


The film was made on a budget of $10,000. Let me put that in perspective – in the same year, Gareth Edwards created Monsters, which I will review later, for a budget of $500,000 and THAT is considered a very low-budget movie. They filmed scenes during the day as their editor worked with the previous day’s footage and they travelled through Central America picking their scenes as they travelled. I think Birdemic: Shock and Terror director James Nguyne simply couldn’t be bothered to try. It took me about ten attempts to watch this film in bursts of more than 5 minutes.


The basic plot is that birds have become mutated and become toxic due to global warming. After 47 minutes of the 93-minute film, the birds appear and start attacking humans and buildings, spitting acid and dive-bombing into petrol stations (with airplane shrieks) and exploding. This ends when doves appear at the end of the film and the birds fly off.


There are hundreds of reasons for why you don’t need to watch Birdemic. Let’s skip over the previously stated fact that the birds don’t appear until 47 minutes into the film and go straight to the technical stuff. Sound editing and cutting look as if they have been done by primary school children. Near the beginning of the film, One guy (I couldn't give a hoot who any of the characters are!) is giving a presentation at his work and is applauded for his efforts. I kid-you-not, the applause goes on for about a minute, fading out at the end of the first cut, to come crashing back in on the second camera angle to show his reaction and this happens ON EVERY CAMERA ANGLE CHANGE. [insert exasperated groan]. That is one issue.


Now let’s move on to the café scene where two characters are chatting (still there is a lack of bird attacks, which I was shouting for by this point). I was so exasperated at the poor quality of the film at this point, I couldn’t be bothered to keep up with character names. The camera keeps switching between the two characters who end their line, have a second or so paused while on screen before the camera switches to the other character, who has a second or so on screen before saying their line and ending it, only to have another second or so on screen before we start this bang-head-on-the-table-for-sanity routine all over again. [insert angry exasperated groan].


I’m not going to give the poor, wooden acting any acknowledgement, but considering I don’t think the actors were getting more than a takeaway and a cup of cheap coffee in exchange for their services, we can leave it at that. I could do better wooden acting and I got an ‘A’ in GCSE Drama!


Eventually, the birds attack, probably at the realisation that they have been included in such a poorly created film. I say ‘birds’, but this is very generous. They are CGI birds that look more like animated stickers stuck on the camera. The birds flap the tips of their wings and hover, presumably in a vague attempt to make them look like they are circling the humans. Other birds in the scenes spin in circles for no reason. There is no effort to use any decent animating software, to the explosions look like something out of an episode of American Dad!


[insert head banging on desk and groan of irritation]


Do you see a weapon?

As if this poor film didn’t need any help to dig its hole any deeper, guess what the characters use to ‘defend’ themselves?


Nope.


No.


Not even close.


Ok, we’re not getting anywhere. Let me tell you.


Coat hangers. COAT HANGERS! I think this was supposed to be the selling point. Let’s just say they don’t work. I think a gun does appear at some point, but I don’t think it got past the hangers.


COAT HANGER!

Finally, on a beach at the end of the film, the doves come in and save the day. Obviously, it was going to be the doves. We should have seen it coming! Now, for any students of filmmaking reading this, take heed. When you film on a beach remember the one big hindrance – that big blue wet thing, THE OCEAN. Make sure you have a sound technician who can set microphones up nice and close to the actors so they can be heard. Then, when you have done the scene, have the sound-tech collect 20-30 seconds of atmospheric background noise, i.e., the sea washing in and out. That way, when you screen your scene, you’ll be able to hear what is being said. What was that? You’ve already been taught that? Someone tell James Nguyen!


James Nguyen

After filming finished in early 2009, Nguyen took his film to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah to promote it. He allegedly did this by handing out flyers from his van that was adorned with stuffed birds and paper signs that said “BIDEMIC.COM” – yes, he mis-spelled his own films’ website! He rented out a local bar to screen the film and seems to put an Alfred Hitchcock style to himself in his promotions. This puts a bit of an egotistical look to him, which you need to push such a poor film.


Since this promotional showing, which was seen by several critics from Horror Movie websites Dread Central and Bloody Disgusting, the film has been described as one of, if not the worst film ever made. It was voted #1 of the 50 Worst Films Ever Made by flavorwire.com.


As much as I hate this film, it is one of those “it’s so bad it’s good” films for a lot of people. It just isn’t for me. It has gained an Ed Wood-esc cult status, which has helped its mild success. The one thing I will credit James Nguyen for is that he is doing something he loves, he tried and has got something out of it. There are lots of people who want that and don’t have it.


Sadly, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection was released in April 2013. I have no intention of watching it. In 2016, Nguyen stated he was hoping to get Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle made. Later that year an Indiegogo campaign to raise $500,000 for the project. When it closed, there was $596 in the pot. The film is due for release in late 2022. A fourth installment is also planned.


*Buries self in cardboard box 100 feet under the surface of Pluto*


I don’t think that’s far enough away.

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