Wednesday, August 25, 2010


For those of you playing along with my blog at home, yes, this is indeed a recent horror movie about killer birds, and yes, it is a much dumber film than Hitchcock’s effort, and yes, I do indeed like it a great deal more. In fact, thanks to the scientific process of star ratings, one could make the argument that I like it exactly twice as much as The Birds. You can’t argue with the scientific method, you know, so don’t even try.
Sean Patrick Flanery stars as Wayne, the retiring chief of police for a small town (and one that I don’t think was ever identified by name at any point, though the car plates are from Pennsylvania and there‘s a Mennonite community present), who is merely the latest to discover that announcing your retirement from law enforcement ahead of time is a very bad idea. In this case he has it worse than many, as instead of dealing with some action movie villain dramatically killing him so his heroic partner can vow revenge, here he has to spend his final day in office trying to defend his town from the menace of an army of malevolent, intelligent ravens that have decided to wage war on the populace. You know, as ravens do.

Not to reference The Birds yet again (oh by the way, Rod Taylor is also in this), but I believe I mentioned in that review how the technology needed for such a story wasn’t really there yet despite his best efforts. Of course, to do such a thing properly today with conventional special effects would still require a budget at least as large as a fairly mid-sized Hollywood movie, so director Sheldon Wilson went the cheaper route of using CG for most of the shots of the birds. While this presents its own problems, it’s mostly done pretty well for such a low budget movie, with gore effects that never actually look cheap, and birds that are then able to look much bigger and scarier than regular birds ever do.

They’re all a lot smarter, as well. When faced with the problem of some potential victims hiding on a bus, they all start picking up rocks and hurling them at the windows to try to smash their way in. Later, when going after a group that’s holed up inside a gas station, they engage in some psychological warfare, smashing all the windows in the parking lot so the humans can’t see what’s coming. These are some suspiciously smart birds. Much smarter than you’d casually expect from ones that had been driven crazy by Mad Cow Disease. Admittedly, though, I’m not completely up on the science there.

Obviously, there are some problems with the film. If it came out in 2007, why doesn’t anyone seem to have a cell phone to call for help? While I can accept that Mad Cow Disease could transform into Mad Bird Disease, why would it make them so smart too? Why did it miss the big money shot where the entire town is attacked in one mass assault, leading to people running through the streets screaming and falling over? And why are they all called ravens when they look like crows? Still, it manages to work where it needs to, giving us plenty of nice animal kills, blood, and people panicking and firing guns into the air, because that’s how they do it in Pennsylvania.

Rating: ***

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