I was discussing my love of bad movies when a friend recommended that I watch a movie called Birdemic: Shock and Terror. I had not heard of it until that moment. I looked it up and I was intrigued by the description and user comments. I had to watch it. I was warned that the movie was bad, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how bad it actually turned out to be. It is truly awful.
Birdemic is a low-budget 2010 film by James Nguyen about a killer bird attack on a California town. It isn’t entirely clear where the movie is set, at least not that I picked up on. The plot is so weak that it barely even has one. The premise of the movie is that abuse of the environment leads birds to rise up against the human population. Global warming is a strong message throughout the film. In fact, it is mentioned obsessively and repeatedly.
The writing is nothing short of terrible. The majority of things that take place make little or no sense at all. There is almost no reason for any of the things that the actors say or do. Shortly into the movie, I had a feeling that it was written and directed by the same person. I was right. It’s as though James Nguyen wrote the movie in one night, then asked his friends to come and star in it.
At the beginning of the movie, the lead character, Rod, sees a cute girl in a diner and follows her out to speak to her. He tells the girl, Natalie, that they used to go to high school together. From that point forward, the movie becomes a bit of a love story, and follows the couple on their first few (very awkward) dates.
Rod and Natalie are the main characters in the movie. We are supposed to believe that they have a thing for each other, but they have no chemistry whatsoever. Neither of them have a single shred of acting ability. Rod, in particular, is simply terrible. Every word he said is strained and devoid of any feeling or human emotion. It’s like he had been hit in the head or something. I truly believe that there was something wrong with him. His acting in this movie is the single worst acting job I have ever seen. It blew my mind. A caveman reading a teleprompter could have acted circles around this guy.
Countless scenes seemed to be intentionally dragged out to fill time. The opening scene of Rod quietly driving down a winding road went on for more than five solid minutes. I watched it, thinking, “What is happening?!” In fact, half of the movie felt like an extended scene of someone driving somewhere. Throughout the movie, the camera would pan across a scene, moving incredibly slowly. Scenes would linger far too long after every conversation, resulting in bizarre awkward silences.
The movie drags on in slow, boring detail about the couple getting to know each other. It advanced so slowly that it was almost painful to watch at times. The birds do not show up until 47 minutes into the movie! Literally half of the 90-minute movie was over before we saw a bird attack.
When the birds finally do attack, it is sudden and loud. The screech of the birds was annoying to listen to. I had to turn the volume down every time they showed up. On top of their screeching, there was an added sound layer of what sounded like World War II fighter planes. There is no explanation for why that is mixed in.
The visual effects were unbelievably bad. The birds were two-dimensional and overlaid on the screen in such a way that they looked like someone had drawn them in by hand. They did not look like part of the scene by any stretch of the imagination. The birds barely moved, and when they did, it was in a looped and repeated fashion.
One of the funniest scenes was of Rod and Natalie in a bird fight with another couple in a hotel parking lot. They didn’t have any weapons, so they took coat hangers from the hotel closet and stood outside swatting them in the air at the birds. It was clear that the actors didn’t know how bad the special effects would be when they were later added in. The cheesy-looking birds that were drawn in weren’t even placed close to where the actors were looking or swatting. I was laughing out loud at how ridiculous it looked.
Beyond the bird effects, Birdemic is littered with technical problems. The sound jumped up and down throughout the movie. The volume would shoot up and down repeatedly during a single conversation, as though they had filmed the dialogue several times and just spliced random pieces together, haphazardly. There were also complete scenes in total silence, for reasons unknown. The sound editing, or lack of, was horrendous. There was an entire scene of the couple walking on the beach where you couldn’t understand a word they were saying. All you could hear was wind and the sound of the ocean while they were supposedly having an important conversation.
I would be shocked if there was any editing done to the movie in any way. Scenes transitioned from one to the next in such a choppy, poorly timed manner that it made the entire viewing experience difficult to follow and borderline unwatchable. After a conversion would end, the camera would linger for five to ten seconds, then jump straight into the middle of another scene without any attempt at a transition at all.
Dialogue was poorly written and ended abruptly. In one hilarious moment, Rod and Natalie were having conversation with a man in the woods, and after running out of lines, the man suddenly says, “Oh, I think I hear a mountain lion, I’d better go in the house.” What? There weren’t any mountains! I screamed laughing.
I would like to know what type of camera was used to film this movie. I watched the HD version, and the picture looked like it was filmed with an early 1980s camcorder. No attention was given to the lighting, particularly outside, where daytime scenes were blown out from too much sunlight. The amount of sunlight outside would change from moment to moment, making it obvious that they had shot a scene over the course of a few hours, then spliced random bits together.
Birdemic is a truly terrible movie. The movie garnered a mere 1.9 out of 10 user rating on IMDB. Yes, it’s that bad! I laughed out loud at how poorly made it was. I would say that it is probably the second worst movie I have ever seen. I’m glad I watched it, though. It was hilarious in its terribleness. I give it 1 out of 5 stars.
They made a sequel in 2013 called Birdemic 2. I have no idea how they managed to pull a sequel from this pile of crap. I don’t know if I have the will to sit through the second one.
If you want to hear a hilarious tear down of this movie, you must listen to the How Did This Get Made podcast, episode 31. They touch on a lot of the points I have made, and make fun of countless scenes in the movie. Definitely give it a listen. It’s a scream! In fact, the actress who played Natalie actually makes an appearance on the podcast. She tells us that the movie took seven months to film. Astonishing. I could have sworn it was shot in two days.