Dead Birds Release Date: 2004 Genre: Horror | Thriller | Western Director(s): Alex Turner Writer(s): Simon Barrett (Frankenfish) Staring: Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox When Dead Birds came out in early 2005, it didn’t take long for nearly every horror website on the web to lavish it with praise. By the time Dead Birds […]

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Dead Birds
Release Date: 2004
Genre: Horror | Thriller | Western
Director(s): Alex Turner
Writer(s): Simon Barrett (Frankenfish)
Staring: Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox

When Dead Birds came out in early 2005, it didn’t take long for nearly every horror website on the web to lavish it with praise. By the time Dead Birds was at the top of my pile, there was something like twenty reviews of it listed on IMDb. Now I’m used to most of the movies I review never getting beyond six or seven linked reviews, so I just kind of assumed that my time would be better spent reviewing underappreciated gems like A Playa in the Pulpit*. Since I’m trying to wipe my 2005 slate clean and start anew in ’06, I decided that it was finally time to pop this in.

Dead Birds never really achieved any kind of significant hold on me. Yes, the directing, cinematography, effects, and all that are great, but when it comes down to a it, a bad script that handicaps already-average actors will have a negative effect on things. That’s exactly what happened with Dead Birds, and I’m really stumped as to why only myself and a few other reviewers have seen this.

Set in the 1860s during the Civil War, bank robbers make up the entire cast of main characters in Dead Birds. They’re not the types that do everything in their power to avoid violence either. In order to score four sacks of gold they kill quite a few bystanders, including a child, although that one was by accident. After successfully leaving the town they seek refuge in an abandoned plantation house that is behind a large cornfield. Their adventure, however, has just begun. While they’re certainly spooked by a creature that resembles a hairless boar, they go about their business once they believe that the problem has been fixed. Only there is all sorts of supernatural humbuggery to come for the group.

Dead Birds just didn’t do much for me. Like so many Hollywood films these days, Dead Birds suffers from a case of style over substance. Substance would’ve been achieved if the filmmakers managed to make me like and/or care about the characters. I was so apathetic towards them all that all the frights in the world could not make me concerned with the events unfolding on my screen.

The style is worth something, the finale is nifty, and there’s some goodness scattered throughout, so don’t take my review as a complete dismissal of the movie. It simply didn’t live up to its hype.

DVD: Aside from Shackles and maybe one other title, Dead Birds is the only 2005 film released by Sony to include a commentary track. This one’s with director Alex Tuner, and it’s nothing special. Neither are the deleted scenes, and I can’t say I bothered to sit through the second commentary track that two cast members, the screenwriter, and the composer can be heard on. The money is in the making of featurette. This isn’t the usual crap that you’d expect. Not only is the on-set footage fun to watch but it also contains pre-production clips of the producers actually getting angry.

* Please recognize that this comment is entirely sarcastic. Please do not go out and rent A Playa in the Pulpit. I don’t need your suicide screwing with my mind**.
** Although it would probably garner the website some publicity. Make sure you leave a note.

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