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Overall Rating
3.44

Awesome: 14.52%
Worth A Look43.55%
Average: 27.42%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 14.52%

5 reviews, 32 user ratings


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Dead Birds
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"'Maybe hiding out in this big spooky abandoned house wasn't a great idea'"
4 stars

DEAD BIRDS is the kind of horror film that straddles the line between mediocrity and quality, ultimately landing on the "quality" side thanks to several elements that help to elevate it above its standard horror trappings. When you're making a basic haunted house tale, it's important to have a good cast and some prime real estate to shoot it on, two elements that are abundantly present here.

Set in Alabama near the end of the Civil War, DEAD BIRDS introduces us to a motley group of Confederate deserters who rob a bank in a rather violent fashion. Led by the soft-spoken Will (Henry Thomas), the group includes Will's kid brother Sam (Patrick Fugit), as well as Will's friend, a former slave named Todd (Isaiah Washington) and girlfriend Annabelle (Nicki Aycox), who fell in love with Will while caring for him in a hospital camp.

After shooting up the bank and half of the town, the robbers flee to an abandoned plantation house that sits in the middle of a cornfield. Having learned about the place from a dead soldier who was sole heir to the house, Will figures it's the perfect place for them to hide out and rest up before their big push on to Mexico. But tensions are already high before they even arrive, since the two other members of the group, Clyde (Michael Shannon) and Joseph (Mark Boone Jr.) are entertaining the idea of killing the others and making off with the stolen gold at the earliest opportunity.

But the plotting and scheming within their own ranks is soon the least of their worries when the group finally settles in at the abandoned house. It becomes apparent very quickly that something is not right with the place, as the gang of thieves encounters ghostly voices, mysteriously locked doors, strange skinless animals out in the fields, and more than a few terrifying visions. When one of their number goes missing, the resulting search of the house and the surrounding grounds reveals hints of voodoo practices and ritualistic sacrifices having been carried out by the house's former owner. Leaving would seem like a good idea at this point, but with the horses exhausted and a storm coming in, the group has little choice but to ride out the night inside of the house.

The cast is a big part of what makes DEAD BIRDS so entertaining. Everyone gives a solid performance and plays things straight, which helps to sell the mood of the film. Likewise, the house is an imposing sight, a two-story structure brimming with windows and balconies that seems to loom menacingly above the surrounding cornfield. It's as if they took the Haunted Mansion of Disney theme park fame, stripped it of all the cheesy animatronics, and dropped it into the set of CHILDREN OF THE CORN. It's a fantastic location for a horror film, and the filmmakers get the most out of it with plenty of spooky shots of the dark house as it is illuminated by lightning flashes or candlelight.

Although the film makes use of some fairly standard horror elements, and the script at times fails to adhere to any kind of central logic, it is brimming with atmosphere and wisely takes a minimalist approach to the scary money shots. The pervasively scary mood is nearly derailed by one or two scenes of clumsily interspersed expository dialogue, but manages to quickly get back on track. The film also benefits from some exceptionally good creature design and effects, providing the viewer with some of the best frights since Samara climbed out of that TV set in THE RING (four words: Kid Under the Bed. There, you've been warned).

Although the film's resolution may induce a bit of head-scratching (at least on the first viewing), and the fate of at least one of the characters is a bit perplexing, DEAD BIRDS is a mostly effective little haunted house tale that is notably better than most of the horror films that made it to the big screen in the past year. You're not likely to lose a night's sleep over it . . . but you may find yourself double-checking under the bed before turning in.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10643&reviewer=258
originally posted: 05/03/05 04:39:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival. For more in the 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston. For more in the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

1/12/11 moose rapper Ho-hum 3 stars
10/31/10 The Dude Who Hated This Movie...Alot Ok, so this movie sucked cocks. Not scary...and you couldnt see Nicky Aycocks tits...fuck 1 stars
9/17/09 dr.evil The fat dude getting pulled into the well was nothing new but merely a wasted kill. 4 stars
6/25/09 tedders Scary, but the monsters are never really that close to the characters. Title makes no sense 3 stars
6/17/09 Matty watching it now. I google searched "why dead birds sucks" 1 stars
12/23/08 Apollo We loved it. It was truly creepy. Better than most current junk. 4 stars
9/15/08 Jeff M. I don't get why this movie gets heat. I loved it, suspenseful and a fresh setting. 4 stars
5/15/08 Kassii Immense. This is one of my favorite films of all time. The i guess you have to be a certai 5 stars
4/24/07 Shell-O Cherry OMG I love it because Sam(Patrick Fugit) is so hot 5 stars
12/04/06 steven newman Caught this up on Sky - (Five US) - not a bad way to waste a couple of hours 3 stars
6/05/06 megan not really scary 1 stars
1/21/06 Jerome Bosch Creepy, but you must be older than 14 to acknowledge that… 4 stars
11/01/05 Jim O'Connor Stephen Studach's Civil War Horror Novel Wolf Pack is INFINITELY BETTER! 3 stars
10/28/05 Tommy Boi This film was crap. Y was it called deadbirds anyway? it left me yawning and laughing 1 stars
10/23/05 xmovie seen it all before 1 stars
10/14/05 Red Carrot Very interesting hybrid horror/western. Check it out. 4 stars
10/08/05 ben hammond IT WAS FUCKING SHIT KILL THE MAKERS OF IT 1 stars
8/30/05 hait hait THIS MOVIE SUCKS BALLS!!! I WASTED 1.5 HOURS OF MY LIFE WATCHING THAT CORN BOAR BULLSHIT 1 stars
8/25/05 steve wiegand super sleazy 5 stars
8/05/05 Mark Louis Baumgart Good not-t--gorey, creepy and moody fun. Nice crime/horror/historical crossover. Great sets 4 stars
7/06/05 fanny me gusto mucho y amo a patrick fugit 4 stars
7/06/05 Karen me encanta y patrick se ve guapisimo lo amo 5 stars
5/10/05 jake cicso more frightening then 'The Ring' 4 stars
5/06/05 Teri Karma The best suspense since 28 Days Later! A must see! 5 stars
5/02/05 Dorothy Malm JUST AWFUL 1 stars
4/17/05 Mark Legron boring as all get out--horrible effects--not scary 1 stars
4/16/05 craig varney will stand your hair up 5 stars
3/08/05 Worx I thought it wuz okay 3 stars
12/23/04 Eric Cool movie 4 stars
9/25/04 Lisa Reed really spooky and atmospheric 5 stars
9/23/04 Erik Partlow Classy little scarefest - henry thomas was really good. 5 stars
9/15/04 big fish rich in suspense and dripping in fear 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  15-Mar-2005 (R)
  DVD: 15-Mar-2005

UK
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