Director – Alex Turner
Cast – Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox, Michael Shannon, Muse Watson, Mark Boone Junior, Isiah Washington, Harris Mann
Release Year – 2004
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here is a film I had been hearing a lot about through the horror community for quite some time. I never had opportunities to check this flick out until recently, and I jumped at my opportunity. I did go into this film with moderate expectations and unfortunately, they were met. Moderate isn’t so bad, but I really wanted to like this film and was expecting a lot more. Call it what you want, but I call it wasted effort.
Dead Birds follows a group of Confederate soldiers who rob recently deposited Confederate money from a bank. Their plan is to high tail it to Mexico, but not after stopping at an abandoned home one of them inherited for some rest and recuperation. Upon entering the home they slowly realize that something odd is going on in and around the home, and the group of soldiers begins to dwindle in number. As the body count rises the soldiers realize they may have gotten involved with more than they bargained for, for they are in a house with a very, VERY dark past.
I’ll admit, this film had a lot of potential. The atmosphere was perfect for what this film tried to do. Any film taking place in an old abandoned farmhouse surrounded by corn fields has the perfect setting for basically any type of flick. Ghost flicks, slashers, psychological horror, the isolated atmosphere is perfect and sets up for some pretty easy yet frightening scares. This film failed at taking advantage of it’s atmosphere, but I’ll get to that later.
I actually liked the plot for this film. I found it original that it had to do with Confederate soldiers given if we ever do get a horror film involving soldiers, it’s usually from Vietnam-present. NEVER have I seen one taking place during the Civil War, so bravo on that one. The idea of them staying in the old house was creepy, but the story behind the old house was a lot creepier. Without trying to spoil too much for you…the previous tenant(anancestor of our main protagonist) lost his wife, and decided to try voodoo spells to bring her back to life. He sacrificed the slaves he had, and instead of getting his wife back…his children were possessed by demons! You know I love demon-oriented flicks…so that got me going. I won’t say anymore than that.
Now where this flick falls flat on it’s face is it’s direction, and part of it’s writing. Had the direction been a lot better this flick could have turned out better. The problems with the plot would have been fixed, and the scares better. I won’t put too much blame on director Alex Turner, because writer Simon Barrett went nowhere with such an awesome plot. In a way this reminds me of “Session 9”, but without the modern setting. Mr. Barrett chose to go with a more psychological approach to horror towards the end of the film instead of keeping the creepy and somewhat creature-oriented aspect they already had going. Bad move man. If he had a good director then it could have most likely been pulled off, but that just did not happen.
I know it seems like I’m dogging this flick completely, but that is not entirely true. This flick did have some pretty awesome looking creatures, and I only wish we would have gotten more action in that sense instead of the psychological stuff.
Overall, this is a mediocre flick that I suggest you only watch if you are really bored, or feel you may enjoy this flick more than I did. Also, if you scare easily and don’t mind cheezy sci-fi channel CGI then you might enjoy this more than me.