Saturday, October 24

Some quick thoughts on Dead Birds (2006)

In 1863 after a bloody bank robbery, a group of thieves decide to wait out a furious storm in a decrepit empty plantation homestead before fleeing to Mexico at dawn. Tensions caused by the stolen sacks of gold coins and sudden disappearances by those in the party led to a night of horror as the house's demonic mysteries are reawakened.

Being a horror fan is to be different and listening to reactions of those outside the community is sometimes odd. Last time I felt this outsider feeling was a conversation over Adam Green's Hatchet with a girl at my place of work. Apparently the new retro slasher homage was "the scariest movie" she'd ever seen and she "couldn't sleep at all that night." Even though the fandom love to be scared; I can't say I've ever been so affected by a single horror flick to lose an entire night's rest. Hell, I rarely even jump or have the urge to flick on a light with most of the horror I consume.

Alex Tuner's Dead Birds is the seldom exception being a rare modern example of "take your time" in the genre. What's even more surprising the film sits in the low budget realm of the spectrum and its quiet proceedings never feel forcefully made modest because of the equally modest funds. In the same way Session 9 so delightfully and tidily contains its story; this yarn is like a little curious tale spun by tourist guides or only whispered by those living in the area present day.

Everything isn't pitch perfect; the allegory made by the "Dead Birds" title isn't that successful since we only see one dead bird to signify the "dead zone" surrounding the area as the group first encounters the house's ominous presence. The dark history of the homestead will also seem muddled upon first glance (a major "key" is only spoken once), but repeat viewings fill in these bumps. Aside from these quibbles; the film is bolstered by a great rough looking cast, several frights that would give the elderly heart attacks, and glum cinematography that creates a welcoming old dark house atmosphere. Certainly a tiny diamond in the rough and worth not just renting but owning to experience again-and-again at your whim.


J. Astro said...

good call... I knew exactly what was going to be under the bed but still pleasantly dreaded the reveal. :)

Also, I always like Mark Boone Junior in movies. He's just a solid, dependable presence.

Jayson Kennedy said...

I was almost going to mention him actually! It's like he's aiming to become the new "that guy" of character actors.

Pauline said...

I love this movie for all the reasons you hit. Great post!

Stewie said...

When I met Henry Thomas at a con, this was the DVD I asked him to sign. He seemed surprised (and very pleased) to sign it. He said no one had asked him to sign that DVD before. (I guess everyone wanted ET). I told him ET could suck it, Dead Birds rocked. He laughed. I think he was just appeasing me.

And agree 100% with J. on Boone. He's a bad ass.

James Gracey said...

I keep seeing this in my local video store - after reading your post I think I will check it out next time I see it. Your comparison to Session 9 also intrigues me - I reckon that was maybe the last film I watched that genuinely unsettled me.

Jay Clarke said...

Yes, saw this movie at Toronto Film Fest in 2004 and it played really well with a crowd. I thought it had a real Asian horror feel to it, with all the scare set pieces and ambiguity. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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