Writerly Thoughts on Birdemic: Shock and Terror

After sharing my Sharknado article, I received a brief message from my good friend, Joel Potrykus saying that I better watch Birdemic: Shock and Terror. That it’s the real deal. That it’s “better.” Well, dear Internet readers, I did just that. In fact, I’ve watched the film three times and, like those classic gems Troll 2 and The RoomBirdemic: Shock and Terror just keeps flapping grander and grander. Maybe if I watch it ten times, some kind of otherworldly revelation will be unleashed and a swarm of eagles will swoop down and peck off my lips. It’s worth a shot.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is a “Romantic Thriller” directed by James Nguyen. The film is romantically charged as we follow our protagonist through his developing relationship with a beautiful young woman. However, that’s not where the fun ends. It’s where it begins. Just when it seems everything is on the up and up (a lucrative stock option, a successful start-up venture), the birds arrive. And they are hungry. They come in droves, in waves of furious violence. They are infected, of course. They are displaced and angry–viscous, bloodthirsty, savage. This is where the film turns blood-red and heats up. Suddenly, we are in the middle of a battlezone, armed with machine guns and fleeing for our lives.

I admire Nguyen’s vision and the way in which he pulled this film off. The special effects are cheaply executed, but all it takes is one’s imagination to make things so real, so fresh, so fantastic. In fact, I actually like the special effects and find them effective in that they make the actors perform harder, perform better. And they do. They really do.

By the end of the journey, we hit water. We become water and ocean air. It’s a beautiful moment that lingers for a long time. We made it to the edge of the world and, for a brief moment, though we don’t know for how long, the birds are gone. Order is restored. The birdemic is over.

If you crave a mixture of Hitchcock and bullets, eagles and romance, you’ll love Birdemic: Shock and Terror. There’s something to be said about a director who has a vision and sticks to it, who makes a film work against all odds. Who takes a small amount of money and invests it in the right way, who truly believes in what he is making. That believability is something that, I think, audiences can feel tug at their hearts. It makes us laugh with joy. We feel that we, too, could be there making that movie, acting that scene. The characters become us and we become an intimate part of the movie. We don’t need slick effects to make seductive cinema, we just need to believe. And birds. We need birds. Lots of them.

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