What The Film!? – Birdemic: Shock and Terror

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What The Film?! is a new weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: 2008’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror

In 1975 Birdemic’s writer/director James Nguyen’s family fled South Vietnam to come to the United States. With a fresh start and a new life ahead of him, James became infatuated with movies, watching as many as he could. With no training in any form of movie making, he decided to make his own movies. After 2003’s Julie and Jack and his unreleased movie Replica, he set out to make what would become his magnum opus: Birdemic: Shock and Terror. The movie took four years of his life and $10,000 that could have been his own but were most likely from some very disappointed investors.

I'm assuming that his own van was used for filming

The movie was rejected from the Sundance film festival, which resulted in James driving around Park City, Utah, in his van that he covered in fake birds, fake blood, and advertisements for his film. He also passed out fliers telling people that it would be playing in a local movie theater he rented out while misspelling his on movie’s name as “Bidemic”. His equally as confusing tagline for the movie on the flier was “Why did the eagles and vultures attacked?”. This is how this movie was discovered.

I cannot even describe the production values. It looks like it was shot with either a cell phone or with a low grade consumer MiniDV camera and the acting is even worse. If you were to watch hundreds and hundreds of short movies made by middle school students on YouTube and wondered what it would be like if they made a horror movie, this is it. That is the most accurate way I could possibly describe this movie. Even the trailer has typos in in.

When the camera isn’t bolted down to a tripod, it is never even with the horizon. Ever. Not because it is a dramatic Batman-esque angle, but because of how the camera man was struggling with holding the camera. The actors struggle to not look in the camera (and fail to do so) and the background audio jumps every time the camera cuts, there is constant camera buzz, the white balance jumps between shops, and things are framed awfully. These problems are consistent the entire movie. Even a simple action as walking to the car is shot horribly and acted horribly. The movie seems to have been edited in camera, having a second or two of space between each line as we cut between each take, at one point they even cut mid word. There is a scene where the lead reads his lines off a piece of paper and stumbles over it despite his lines being in front of him.

I have never seen an actor get in his car and thought “That’s not believable” before this movie. There is seriously a shot in this movie where the camera follows a car driving down the street and the camera pans right before the car is even in shot and has to reset before panning again. This was left in the movie. This wasn’t cut out.

The Director was insistent on the actresses wear bikinis in the make-out scene because he was afraid of the actresses would actually be having sex. HOW ADORABLE IS THAT?

One of the characters is a big-shot Victoria’s Secret model who has a big modeling/photoshoot scene in the back of a One-Hour-Photo Pharmacy. I had no idea that Victoria’s Secret runs business like a creepy DeviantArt or CraigsList post, but you learn something new each day.

The lead (his name is Rod) ends up going on a date with the Victoria’s Secret model (Nathalie) and he becomes controlling literally seconds into the date. This is supposed to be humorous and charming instead of a red flag when he’s clawing across the table to steal grab her purse. The girl has literally no life outside of this boy, they promtply fall in love because women apparently don’t have lives until they meet the right boy, apparently. She raves about this man who has absolutely no personality to her mother who tells her it’s good that she found a man to support her. It’s like Fox News where I can’t tell if there is legit sexism or some sort of satire here. To call these characters one dimensional is an insult to one dimensional characters.

I Googled “One Dimensional” and Two Broke Girls came up. That's not a joke. That happened.

There is an underlying environmental message, talking about how global warming is killing polar bears, and even the leads go and watch 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth on a date. The lead decides to start his own “Green Tech” company that is shown with him in boardrooms spouting scientific buzzwords to make it seem intelligent. He makes the “big sale” and takes his girlfriend out on a vacation to some ocean side town. “All I want is you”, the girl says after knowing the guy for maybe three days because all a woman is every in need of is a man apparently. This is followed by a dance scene where the two leads are the only people in the entire club (which looks to have been shot in a high school classroom).

I honest to God could not understand what they were saying over the roar of the ocean.

They wake up the next morning to find the entire town under attack by Eagles that sound like airplane propellers, spit acid, and explode into flames when they hit the ground. No part of that sentence is a joke, that is what happens. The birds look like cheap GIFs that have been overlaid over the footage making the entire movie look like the LASERCATS sketches from Saturday Night Live. Rod and Nathalie promptly meet up with two other survivors who introduce themselves as “Ramsey” and “Girlfriend Becky” because that is the only identifier a woman ever needs in this universe is if she has a boyfriend or not.

They run out to a van, waving wire coat hangers at the birds for self defense and then for absolutely no reason, they inexplicably have assault riffles. “Oh look, dead people on the side of the road. Lets check for survivors” Ramsey says, “OKAY!” Rod enthusiastically replies. The four of them check the side of the road of the desolate wasteland that had been destroyed by birds with a highway behind them clearly showing cars driving around casually without any issue because this was shot one the side of a road in the middle of the day. They find two children who are almost as bad at acting as everyone else. Almost.

This is the best possible image to summarize this movie.

A scientist tells the group that the birds are attacking people because of Bird Flu which is caused by Global Warming which also causes SARs. This scientist rambles about Global Warming for about four minutes. “You sure do know a lot about birds!” Nathalie tells him for no describable reason. “Of course I do, I’m an Ornithologist!” he replies before disappearing forever from the movie. After this Ramsey tells everyone that he was in Iraq and is “sick of all the killing, the world needs to give peace a chance”. This movie plays less like a movie and more like a piece of propaganda for the Republican party, making every single liberal person in the country look bad.

“War is a construct created by the government to make us buy more things! Legalize everything!”

They stumble upon a crazy hippie character (who is supposed to be a voice of reason) who tells the leads that global warming is also the cause of Bark Beetles destroying forests. “I hear a mountain lion! Better get back to your car!” he tells them with the best line in the movie which I am aching to end a conversation with. While leaving the forest, there is a shot where the special effect overlaid over the footage cuts before the actual scene cuts. The fire disappears a second before the camera cuts to the next scene.

To get this shot to look like they were being attacked by birds, everyone had a seizure on camera at the same time.

Now while doing What The Film!? I’ve done some movies I’ve legitimately enjoyed (From Dusk Till DawnX-Men: First Class,  Jurassic Park 2, Mac & Me) but the fact is that this is probably the most entertaining movie I’ve ever watched for this column. I strongly suggest it for anyone who enjoys Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is actually painful for me to make fun of it because of how much work the Director put in. He’s like a modern Ed Wood, the technical aspect is awful, but damn it, he believes in his movie and it’s kind of contagious. The sequel is being done in 3D and will be out this summer.

I am legitemately excited about this. This could be better than Prometheus

Dane thinks that maybe we’re all getting a little carried away with this. Admittedly a few birds did act strange, but that’s no reason to not follow him on Twitter and Tumblr!

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