Dead Birds is one of those movies that I wanted to like so much. Actually I didn't really know what it was about- except that there were probably some dead birds somewhere- and that it had made it on a few peoples best of the decade list I think. Naturally I was intrigued but imagine my surprise to find that Dead Birds was a CGI infested tale that took place during the Civil War and had largely to do with hairless Brundlefly's from another dimension!
So yes- Dead Birds follows a "posse" of deserters who rob banks and make a real mess of things by shooting up everyone's head and what not. Eventually they come to a cornfield- where this comes flying out of the corn.
Your guess is as good as mine as to what that awful beastie is. Strangely unperturbed, the gang moves on towards the sprawling mansion. Then someone steps on a dead bird.
Yes you are correct in thinking that that is not any normal "dead bird" (it's a messed up one). So the gang enters the homestead anyways- and strange things start happening. Odd voices are heard, a book of voodoo or SOMETHING is found in the cellar- and people keep disappearing and turning up as the above altered version of Brundlefly. In short- the family who once lived there were all turned into evil Brundlefly demons. Sort of. The wife got sick- the father was upset and tortured and killed some slaves to appease the disease- but everything went wrong and opened up a door to another dimension and those creatures came and turned everyone into one of them. And now the house is doomed.
Here are a few beefs I had with the movie. For starters- there was no way in hell that the main characters could convince me that they were from the Civil War era. All horrible anachronisms aside- if I hadn't known this was set in the Civil War era I would have assumed these were just a couple of kooky Civil War reenactors. I think Elliot had an accent in the very beginning but then everything just turned real present day for me. The girl had way too much make up on, the lanterns did not flicker like candles- and people made out like they were hot and horny teenagers. To be fair the girl was really the worst offender of this- and everyone else was just half bad. But seriously- horrible job, also probably due to the script.
Next- this whole demon/other dimension thing was not translated well at all. There were way too many elements to this story and it seemed like they were all forced into that brief flashback that we get of what exactly the father did. But is that flashback really enough to make you understand? One quick glance at the IMDB board for this movie and you'll realize that the answer is NO. No one understands what is going on unless you read this stupid Dead Birds Glossary movie guide and even then you are still scratching your head because no where in the movie did it outline those facts. Sure we get some gist that the father did some pretty bad shit and let in some pretty shitty looking demons--but what is this other dimension crap? You're telling me that when Isaiah Washington turns into swirly green dust all of a sudden that I'm suppose to know he got zapped into another dimension?
(Look it's a stunt double!)
Yeah I didn't think so.
Finally- the movie relies far too much on CGI and bad Asian horror movie scare tactics. Yes seeing a creepy little boy under your bed is pretty scary.
But when he suddenly turns into this with no warning...
It's just sort of insulting. Yes that was terrifying- but only because it was a jolting- scary- unexpected and tampered with emotion. I'm thinking that that scene would have actually been scarier if the little boy had stayed the way he was before that CGI change? I think so. If there's one thing I've learned with supernatural themed horror movies- understated terror works best. Think The Changeling and the red ball. Also it didn't help that they used that same scare tactic 100 more times.
Did it make me jump every single time? Yes. But anyone with a pulse will jump when the scene suddenly flashes to a scary face accompanied by a loud velociraptor noise. It's just not enough for me. I want to be scared because something legitimately makes me feel uneasy and just really really unsettles my nerves- I don't want to be forced into feeling that way.
So if you haven't realized it by now I felt horribly let down by this movie. With a bit more thinking, and a serious decrease in the amount of CGI used it probably could have succeeded. I'm still undecided about all this other dimension stuff and having it be set in the Civil War Era and I will maintain that setting it in such an era was pretty pointless and possibly an attempt to have it not be like any other supernatural horror movie. Sure there were some pretty powerful moments--like when Elliot would stay awake at night and get all weepy about E.T. still being gone...
Plus this scene with the slave woman was kind of creepy.
But for the most part- I was pretty underwhelmed and very disappointed AND let down. Perfect proof of that is the title. Originally there was suppose to be a much bigger scene with dead birds which would enhance the nature of the title and actually have it make more sense to the viewer. Due to budget and time constraints that never happened so we really just get that one close up of a dead bird which of course equalled confusion and now nobody knows what the title is suppose to mean. Much like the rest of the movie. Although if you have a little bit of common sense you can probably figure it out- but still...what are all those dumb people on the IMDB message boards suppose to do?!
Buy Dead Birds at Horror Movie Empire
Not great, no, but at least it isn't yet another rehash of Friday the 13th or The Hills Have Eyes.
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