DEAD BIRDS is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Irian. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had an almost classic ... See full summary »
In this unsettling and creepy thriller, Karen (Ilona Elkin), a young nurse who works in a psychiatric ward, boards the last subway train of the night only to have it stop suddenly in the ... See full summary »
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In Civil War-era Alabama, a band of outlaws takes refuge at an abandoned plantation after robbing a bank that held a cache of Confederate gold. Led by William, the group includes Sam, Todd, Annabelle, Clyde and Joseph. They intend to flee to Mexico, but nightfall and a thunderstorm force the robbers to remain in place. As the night wears on, each member of the group begins to have visions of the atrocities that occurred within the house. As supernatural forces begin to manifest themselves, the six turn on one another.Written by
I saw Dead Birds Thursday at noon at the Film Fest and it scared me silly. The story line is simply bank robbers during the 1860s enter a haunted house as a hideaway during a nasty storm only to discover the deadly secrets that lay within. I found the backstory to be interesting, especially compared to movies like The Ring. Either tell me enough or don't tell me at all. I thought the Ring was silly since once Naomi Watts solved the puzzle in the videotape, she still was poised to die. So why explain the story? It seemed more a tool of exposition, than as a living part of the film.
Here are some highlights:
I really enjoyed how the director was able to keep the house fresh for the entire length of the movie, although I agree with previous reviewers that some parts lagged from too much exploration of the house. Luckily the house is scary enough to warrant the set up of mood. If the rooms in the house had more function, perhaps it would feel less slow. It's hard to explain without spoiling any of the secrets of the film, but the rooms are laboriously set up to explain the backstory later. Each room has an event tied to the backstory. The performances were just pitch perfect. I liked that there was no modern references and the accents stayed pretty consistent. I don't know how much character development a haunted house story requires. They are robbers. If the learn something through the experience, it sort of cheats the purpose of the story: that is, them getting their butts kicked all around town by this ghoulish house.
Now, some negatives:
I kinda wish there weren't so many loud noise boo scares but they still scared me silly! Unfortunately, I also knew when they were coming. In fact, every major scare comes with a sound blast. Also, although I thought the backstory was too clear (albeit interesting), one audience member in the crowd asked for clarification. So I guess the film can't win. The film repeats the backstory nearly thrice.
But I thought after the appearance of the father to Patrick Fugit an hour in it was pretty clear what happened.
*End spoiler alert*
Anyhow, I loved the ending which was a perfect way to finish it off and it does have a twist, although it doesn't overshadow the film. The movie is one of my favourites from the festival because of how it set up mood and tone and since this was the director's first film, I think he'll only get better and more confident in letting the material scare the audience, opposed to the sound effects.
Still, I'd take this over RE2 or Alien V Predator any day.
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