Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Moviehead Pictures

With the internet's stranglehold on the pop-culture zeitgeist, it's incredible that a good old-fashioned, cheesy film can still become a cult classic. But no matter how many fucked-up viral videos we've collectively seen or how desensitized we've become to high weirdness, writer-director James Nguyen's self-proclaimed romantic thriller Birdemic: Shock and Terror proves that there's room—alongside Ed Wood's entire oeuvre—for one more in the pantheon of beloved trash-terpieces. For most of its first half, Birdemic isn't actually about birds. Alan Bagh makes his awkward screen debut as a northern California software salesman (43-year-old Nguyen is exactly that in real life) who reconnects with a former classmate, a perky blond fashion model played by first-timer Whitney Moore. It's a fantasy meet-cute, or at least meet-strange, as neither performer has much of a grasp on space, rhythm, or delivery—Bagh gives the false (but not at all intentional) impression that English might be his second language. The couple's anti-rapport certainly isn't helped by the peculiar editing: Establishing and transition shots are held too long, dialogue is chopped off, and the sound is allowed to cut out intermittently. In its technique or lack thereof, the film resembles nothing else in cinema, except maybe the soft-core cheapies on Cinemax at night. Soon enough, though, there will be birds: poorly digitized, flapping clones overlaid on the movie as if there were an invisible wall of glass between two isolated 3-D planes. Birdemic crosses the line from off-putting love story to straight-to-video monster movie. Though the lo-fi genre joys do begin to lose their appeal, the film's hypnotic charm remains through Nguyen's secret weapon: sincerity.

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