Since I only have one final today and it is late in the day, I decided it would be a good time to write up a review instead of burning myself out reading over notes I have been reading for the past week. Plus, after the last movie, I was ready for the next one. Dead Birds (2004) was the next movie up and Netflix was showing a high score for it, so I had my hopes up going in. I don't know where they got the title for the movie, since it has nothing to do with birds and I could only find one dead one in it. Cool title but it has nothing to do with the movie itself. Some people suggest that the title is like a warning. Dead birds are often a warning that something isn't right and I guess that does fit with this movie. But maybe they could have explained that just a little better.
Dead Birds is set in 1863 during the Civil War. A group of soldiers enter a bank with sacks of gold, wanting to deposit them. While two of them remain outside, another group comes riding up. When asked what they want, they reply that they have business in the bank. The soldiers tell them that they will have to wait but are killed before they can do little else. Once inside the bank this second group kills everyone except the one woman who was there, because she happens to be in on the robbery. They take the gold and split. On the way out of town, they get into another shoot out where a little boy is killed. They ride out of town looking for a place to hole up, before they start their ride to Mexico. Since they are in the deep South (Alabama actually), they are looking for a plantation that was once owned by a soldier who is now dead. The leader of the group, William (Henry Thomas), decides it would be a good place to go for the night since he thinks no one will be there.
They manage to find the place and have to go through a corn field to get there. They find a creepy looking scarecrow, and Sam (Patrick Fugit) shoots a weird looking creature. They don't think too much of it and make their way to the house. Once there, they discover some foot prints in the dust. So William and Todd (Isaiah Washington) check out the house, while Clyde (Michael Shannon) and Joseph (Mark Boone Junior) check the outside. Sam has Annabelle (Nicki Aycox) try and get a bullet out of him, that he got during the bank robbery. They soon discover that not everything is as it seems though.
The effects are very good for the most part. There was one scene that I wasn't too thrilled with, when a guy gets his head shot completely off. I thought it was a little extreme and didn't look that good. You will find some CGI effects. Some people felt they were used too much for this film, but I'm not one of them. The CGI effects were well done, and there is only one place in the film where they are used a lot. That is during a flash back sequence. Another area that turns out to be real gory, is when Todd finds a slave woman in the basement. She gets cut open and...well, I will just let you see that one for yourself. And don't forget about what they do to the poor horses!
I really enjoyed the acting in Dead Birds. At the time the film was made, I don't think it had a well known cast. I had heard of Isaiah Washington before, but I couldn't place where I have seen the name before. I didn't know it until after watching the movie, that Henry Thomas was in E.T. as the little boy that was basically one of the main characters. I liked Dead Birds so much in part because of Nicki Aycox. I really liked her performance and her character. Nicki herself isn't too bad either.
Much like Session 9, Dead Birds is a slow building movie. It starts fairly fast with the bank robbery and kind of gives the wrong impression about what kind of movie this is going to be. It starts out with a lot of action and some gore, so I think most people expect it will keep that pace going. Instead, it slows and stays that way. It does manage to invoke a very creepy feel along the way though. The music, even though some people say is too repetitive and reminds them too much of The Shining, really added to the feel of the movie for me. The effects made me jump and even yell just a little, because they weren't really what I was expecting and because they are very well done.
That's not to say that everything was great about Dead Birds. The pace of the movie will turn some people off, along with the fact that things are not truly explained. It only hints at what happened in the past, that is causing the things that we see happening. While these things didn't bother me at all, the lighting could at times. They are only supposed to have a few lanterns to give them light, but yet everything can be very clear. This wasn't a big complaint, since at times I complain about things being so dark that you can't see anything. My big complaint was how are we supposed to get involved in a bunch of characters that aren't very likable? Are we honestly supposed to care about a bunch of people that will kill anyone for some gold coins? Still, it is a movie that I will gladly buy and watch many times. This isn't a movie for everyone but I sure loved it!
5 out of 5 Scary kids get me every time
5 days ago