There’s something charming about certain kinds of “bad” movies. For me, I can say that they remind me of my middle school days, when I’d run around the neighborhood, making short films on my palmcorder and S-VHS camera. I cringe whenever I view this old footage — it is just horrible. However, there is an earnestness that comes through clearly; a wanting to make a movie because you love movies, skills be damned.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror was made and put out into the world with the kind of passion that some mainstream directors lack. Through word of mouth, midnight screenings and an excellent Rifftrax commentary, the movie became a cult success. And, like with most successful films, plans for a sequel came out.
Would the same charm that people loved carry over?
Made with a sense of self awareness, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection is exactly the kind of sequel I was expecting. Set in Hollywood — a few years after the events of the original — we almost get the same exact structure: A man and woman fall in love and enjoy great career success along the way. This time, the man is a filmmaker and the woman a struggling actress. Rod (the previous lead) returns, with girlfriend Natalie, to be a financial backer of his friends movie. But, when blood rains from the heavens, birds rise from the tar pits to attack humanity!
Like before, there are no character arcs, no twists, and no real explanation for anything happening. Permission may have been given to shoot in and around better locations and all, but it’s almost the same exact movie. Seriously. The opening, the restaurant scene, the girl getting a gig, the guy getting money, the dancing, the hotel, etc.
Why mess with what worked before, the director must’ve stated.
And if he said that, he’s right. The fans that came out in droves for the original are responsible for the sequel even being made. Knowing what they liked before, director James Nguyen delivers everything with a wink, a smile and a thank you. One line of dialogue in particular, delivered by the boy Rod and Natalie saved in the original, has me convinced of the jokey nature of the production: “I wish my sister were here to see this; she died after eating the fish Rod made.”
Combined with the callbacks and references, this is ultimate fan service. I can’t say that I connected with this the same way I did with the original, but that’s ok. Birdemic 2: The Resurrection is a loving sentiment to a devoted audience. Nguyen may not be good at making movies, but he’s good at showing that he loves movies. A scene where a moviegoing crowd is attacked by birds was shot with real fans in a real theater. I flashbacked to Gremlins 2 at that moment, and remarked to myself how much fun they were all having.
Has the charm returned? Well… it’s more like a twinkle.
All over again, I found myself cringing at the bad line reads and poor edits and shots. But, if I had made this movie as a wide eyed middle schooler, I would be very proud of myself, and look back on that time with fondness. It’s still bad, though.
Originally published at billreviewsfilm.blogspot.com on April 19, 2013.