BIRDEMIC 2: THE RESURRECTION is a film that manages to repeat all of the ineptitude present in the original BIRDEMIC and then adds a thick layer of douchebaggery for good measure. The birds are back, the characters are back, the bad scripting and acting is back as is director James Nguyen’s insistence that we will want to hear about his semi-autobiographical ego waxing.
For those unfamiliar with the 2010 film, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR, thank your lucky stars that you have managed to exist thus far without seeing anything as remotely terrible as that movie. Now, prepare to kick that good fortune to the curb because really, you must see it.
The conceit of the original BIRDEMIC was that eagles, upset by the effect global warming was having on the ecosystem, started attacking humans. The eagles dive-bombed people, slashing their throats with their talons and sometimes exploding and splattering people with acid when they got close enough. This was accomplished with the most unintentionally hilarious special effects ever. The birds often hovered in place and were haphazardly and unconvincingly superimposed over flailing actors.
If this is all BIRDEMIC was, it would already be prime material for legendary bad movie status. But no, BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR was actually what James Nguyen called a “romantic thriller,” which was really a way to cover up the fact that his film lacked focus and any sense of pacing. More than half of BIRDEMIC’s running time was instead taken up by the story of a Rod (Alan Bagh), a guy who has just become a millionaire through his amazing skills in phone sales and marketing. Rod meets Nathalie (Whitney Moore), a Victoria’s Secret model who still gets her shots developed at the One-Hour Photo. We see every agonizing moment of their courtship, during which no one talks or even moves like most humans do, and in between we get lectures about why we should really switch to solar power. Both BIRDEMIC films could be bankrolled by the petroleum industry to make environmentalists look ridiculous.
For the sequel, Nguyen follows the old adage, “write what you know.” For aspiring screenwriters, BIRDEMIC 2 makes the case that maybe you shouldn’t write what you know. Maybe what you know is incredibly boring and of little to no interest to anyone else in the world.
We meet Bill (Thomas Favaloro), an aspiring filmmaker with a purity and singleness of vision. You can tell this is the case because he throws the term “Sundance” around like it’s a preposition. He’s someone who has had luck with “indie films” as well as “the big Hollywood budget films.” These are of course, Bill’s words, and should not be confused with anything an accomplished filmmaker would actually say. In the first scene, he meets Gloria (Chelsea Turnbo), a waitress at the Happy Endings Diner and an aspiring actress in her own right. Bill doesn’t know much about subtlety and the sheer amount of leering he does in the first ten minutes of this film should probably get him locked up in stir for thirty days.
He meets his friends at the diner, Rod and Nathalie from the first film. Right on the spot, Rod agrees to finance Bill’s film, saying he was moved by the script. “I don’t know much about the movie business, but I know how to read.”
The next forty minutes of the film follows Bill as he gets his film greenlit for the round figure of $1 million, which of course is announced in a flurry of high-fives and chest bumps. And then, it’s courtship time again as Bill courts his leading lady in a very similar fashion to the first film. Only instead of him talking about how sales and marketing changed his life, you instead hear about what a great and noble filmmaker he is and how he wants to hire attractive young actresses like Gloria as a way of giving to the world. The character is obviously another Nguyen cypher and the narcissism on display is quite shocking, as is the casting couch longing with which Bill tries to nail the vapid Gloria. The way in which he creepily pursues Gloria makes Bill into one of those unintentionally threatening douchebags on the silver screen. Even if things work out between the two, it’s only a matter of time before Gloria discovers a basement filled with Bill’s previous acting discoveries.
Shortly after a scene in which Bill and Gloria finally have sex – a scene that suggests that neither of them knows how to have sex – red rain pours from the sky. Yes, this is the second film in a month to feature raining blood and the effects are pretty much the same. Prehistoric birds (which look remarkably like the birds from the original BIRDEMIC) launch from the La Brea Tar Pits en mass, still alive and now apparently ready to kill every man, woman and child who ticks them off. Bill, Gloria, Rod and Nathalie run away with their ridiculously small film crew and try to help anyone they come across. Unfortunately,whenever they say they are about to help someone, it’s usually a foregone conclusion that the person they intended to help is about to die horribly. After a while, you have to start thinking that maybe it’s them.
The rest of the film continues on the same track as the original BIRDEMIC. The group runs around, shoots at the birds while never running out of bullets and everyone repeats the line, “She’s dead,” ad nausea. In addition to killer exploding eagles, BIRDEMIC 2 also presents the added side-threats of zombies and killer cavemen. Go on, read that sentence again. You’ll never make peace with yourself until you do. Nguyen also tries to break up the monotony by having at least a couple poorly staged action sequences before the birds appear. A giant jellyfish attack may be the most unintentionally hilarious scene in a horror film within the last few years.
Nguyen seems to be trying to give people more of what he thinks they want. Hence, virtually every character that survived the original BIRDEMIC shows up here as well, whether it makes any sense or not. The crazy bird scientist they encountered on the bridge in the first film gets encountered on another bridge here, where he continues to struggle through his lines with various “um’s,” “uh’s” and pregnant pauses. Nathalie’s mother shows up out of the blue in a scene that plays as if one of them has been missing for some time. The Tree Hugger is now married and has his own reality show about how to live a green lifestyle. And yes, all four of our principals dance to a new song by the same restaurant band featured in the first film. Remarkably, this scene is even longer, cheesier and more obnoxious than the one that inspired it.
Not everyone makes the transition into the sequel however. As suggested at the end of BIRDEMIC, Rod and Nathalie adopted two children. One of the children shows up here, during a tour of the La Brea Tar Pits in a performance which suggests this kid may murder Rod and Nathalie in their sleep sometime very soon. But what happened to the little girl? Oh. Oh, this is just fantastic and I know it makes me into a terrible person. Nguyen has a reputation for not treating his actors very well and when they leave a production or have a disagreement, he goes to drastic measures Here, the little boy calmly states that he wishes his sister could be here to see this. Unfortunately, she’s dead, succumbing to food poisoning because… oh this is marvelous… the fish that Rod cooked at the end of the original BIRDEMIC was so poorly prepared, it wound up killing her. Yes, this winsome line delivery about the death of a child was the most hilarious, gut-busting moment in this film, because the reasons for it are so transparent. Apparently, the young actress who played the part of the little girl in the original film either refused to appear this time out of her agent held out for more money. As a consequence, Nguyen could have simply said that the kid was at home or visiting someone. But no, Nguyen actually killed the kid off, made it the hero’s fault and never brings it up again.
Speaking of things never being brought up again, say goodbye to the little boy as well. After his cameo, he is never seen or referenced again. You would think that once the birds begin attacking, Rod and Nathalie would want to race to the aid of their son. Instead, everyone seems to forget they have one.
It has been three years since BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR and in that time, James Nguyen has not learned how to light, mic or frame a shot. The sound is terrible, sometimes inaudible due to background noise and sometimes looped in some of the worst post-dubbing outside of an old GODZILLA film. The writing is still terrible, with the actors reading their lines with robotic, grade school assembly precision. Trivia anecdotes routinely take the place of character development. Actors flub their lines, stumble over sentences or mispronounce key phrases by Nguyen just keeps filming. At one point, one of the performers gets a text message alert while delivering their lines and it’s kept in the film as is.
Chelsea Turnbo appears barely awake through much of the film, except during the first bird attack when she can be seen giggling. Thomas Favaloro plays Bill as an overly-animated, obnoxious, narcissistic jerk. Alan Bagh seems to be resigned to his place in film history.
But then there’s Whitney Moore. Now, what I’m about to detail is pure speculation on my part and I would hate to be the cause of any bad fortune on Ms. Moore. But honestly, Whitney Moore sort of became my hero during this film.
While giving the performance we expect, Moore also seems to be giving a second, secret performance at the same time, right under the nose of the director. From her first scene onwards, she does not look happy to be dragged back into another James Nguyen film. As the film wears on, she can be seen reacting to bad dialogue and ridiculous plot points by sighing, rolling her eyes and flashing looks that say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” She is also responsible for what I assume are subtle ad-libs, because they are the only natural pieces of dialogue in the film, that are deprecating to the Rod character or the film itself. Nguyen, of course, fails to recognize this is going on. But go on, see this film (you know you want to) and tell me I’m wrong. It was fascinating to watch and she became the one person I could relate to. Every shake of her head on screen was accompanied by me doing the same, saying “I’m right there with you, girl.”
As you can tell, BIRDEMIC 2: THE RESURRECTION is yet another exercise in epically bad filmmaking. So, is it as epic as the original film? Well, not quite. Nguyen amps everything up a bit, but this isn’t the first time we’re seeing this stuff either. In 2010, that film came out of nowhere and had us constantly staring at the screen in disbelief. This time out, we’re still shocked, not by how out there the film is but that Nguyen is making the same mistakes twice. And then, there are certain parts of the film that are amplified enough in their craziest that they are even worse than similar scenes in the first film… which is to say, even better.
As a director, Nguyen is just clueless enough to repeat the same poor decisions of the first BIRDEMIC with an ego that doesn’t listen to outside help. At least, most of the time. Nguyen throws in a few things that suggest a campier side to the auteur. There is a pointless scene which exists merely to infuse some female nudity into the proceedings (something I will not argue against). There’s a flashback sequence featuring caveman sex and murder and the reappearance of cavemen later on in the film. And I almost forgot to mention the scene when, in the middle of the bird attack, an aspiring screenwriter stops everything to mention how much he likes JAWS and the cast talks about movie franchises for three minutes. All of these things show that Nguyen is in on the joke, at least part of the time. But when he’s in on the joke, it’s just not as fun. Instead of asking what were they thinking, we know what they were thinking, which causes the novelty to wear off a bit.
He also brings some uncomfortable sexism and racism to the film. For instance, the only African-Americans in the film apart from Damien Carter as the nightclub singer, are the dead bodies of gang members who were obviously packing a lot of firepower before getting killed.
BIRDEMIC 2 may not be the lightning in a bottle of the first film, and honestly how could it be? It does still offer the same confounding bad movie fun of the first film however. Watching this long after the original may not be the way to go. Instead, I would recommend making your BIRDEMIC evening a double feature. Watch the first film and then, before you can fully recover, watch the second. And then witness as your brain melts away. Competency level: ZERO STARS (out of ★★★★). Entertainment value: ★★★½ (out of ★★★★).
– Not rated, but features graphic if unconvincing violence, mild language, some sexual situations and nudity.
– Running time: A mercifully short 1hr 18mins.
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