MAY 25, 2010
I think it’s safe to say that I put more effort into seeing Flu Birds (aka Flu Bird Horror) than most of the people in its credits put into making it. And it wasn’t really much - basically, I got a screener of the movie that turned out to be missing score, VFX, etc, so I watched something else that day and added it to my queue so I could see it properly. Of course, I can’t remember a note of the score and the VFX still didn’t look finished, so it was all for naught. Plus the movie sucked.
But that wasn’t really a surprise. Come on, it’s a Sci-Fi original movie with a bunch of annoying teens being hunted by mutated birds (that look more like bats but whatever). Speaking of our “heroes”, can we PLEASE give a rest to the “delinquents are brought out to nature as part of their punishment” setup? Good lord - how about a group of kids who you might actually have a reason to LIKE based on their paper thin characterization? How about a science club, or a group going out to clean up the lake area out of the goodness of their heart, something along those lines? Is it too much to ask to focus on likeable people in a modern horror movie?
What DID surprise me is how many of them survive the titular birds. There are still 5 people left alive at the end, which is about half of the number we had to start. Come on, kill these annoying bastards! Like, I knew Lance Guest and Clare Carey would survive, because they used to be lovers and now they’re separated but still care about each other, and I knew Sarah Butler would be OK because she was the main girl of the group whose crime was “noble” in movie terms (though not in legal ones, since it was stolen directly from Kate’s backstory from Lost, making it the 2nd HMAD movie this year to swipe this motif, after Are You Scared?). But why do the annoying wannabe kid or the slutty blond girl survive as well? And why is the guy who has been a complete dick for the entire movie get to jump into a Harry Stamper role at the end of the movie, sacrificing himself for everyone else’s safety? You know why it worked in Armageddon? BECAUSE WE LIKE BRUCE WILLIS/HARRY STAMPER. Who the fuck cares if the guy saving everyone is the guy we’ve been WANTING to see dead for the previous 80 minutes? It should have been Lance Guest, if anyone, because not only is he one of the few tolerable characters, but he’s also the only actor in the movie who can have any sort of attachment with an audience, thanks to Halloween II and The Last Starfighter (and hell, even Jaws 4 is more reputable than anything else this cast can list on their resumés).
Actually, to be honest, the scenes with him and Carey actually aren’t THAT bad, because at least they are being proactive and largely civil, unlike the kids who just run around like morons and yell “Shut up!” at each other over and over (they also spend a suspicious amount of time debating over the four directions and how to read maps - it’s like an orienteering fetish film at times). The scenes with Guest and co. at a “lab” (office building) are somewhat intriguing, not unlike the scientist scenes in The Crazies, and played by better actors. They also offer unintentional comedy in the form of two actors who deliver all of their lines phonetically.
I will also give the movie some props for keeping a fairly brisk pace right from the start - it’s not long before our kids are being attacked by flu birds, and they’re pretty much on the run nonstop from there. Even the science labs scenes have some minor action, as they are ultimately quarantined themselves. None of the movie is particularly good, but at least it’s not a snoozer. And since it’s very similar to The Rage at times, I sort of liked that it was played straight, since I’m not sure my brain can handle TWO comedic killer mutant birds in the woods movies in its lifetime.
Of course, this means we are subjected to more hideous effects than normal. While most of these things usually sport one good kill or a few brief nice shots of its monster(s), I don’t think a single effect in the movie looks even remotely acceptable, with the birds looking worse than rear projected highways in a 1940s movie and almost zero on-screen kills (beware the horror movie that has an R rating only for language). Christ, at one point someone COUGHS UP digital blood! I can see why they’d have to go CGI for a bullet wound or something, but why the fuck couldn’t the actor just put a half cup of Karo syrup in his mouth and then spit it out when they called “action”? Such pointless half-assery.
As is usually the case with these things, there are no extras beyond trailers for movies that, for the most part, actually look worse than this one. That’s it though - no making of, deleted scenes, or commentary tracks. Apparently director Leigh Scott (veteran of several Asylum productions, including the immor(t)al Transmorphers) had better things to do with his time than discuss the cinematic and cultural influences that allowed him to created the rich tapestry of creativity that is Flu Birds. A pity!
What say you?