When a group of criminals on the run after a bank robbery take refuge in an abandoned house, they have no idea what evil they have come upon. Isolated and presumed deserted, the house is anything but safe...As the night we... more »ars on and a thunderstorm grows outside, each member of the group begins to have visions of the atrocities that occurred within the house, haunting it forever. Voices in the well, visions of mangled bodies and clawing under the stairs plague their waking hours. As the fear in the group begins to grow and the supernatural forces in the house start to manifest themselves, the group turn on each other and exact the wrath of the soul trapped within the walls.« less
Donna M. (charmedig) from SWEETWATER, TN Reviewed on 7/3/2013...
what a great, little heard of gem of a horror movie. I was pleasantly surprised with the special effects of Dead Birds. I won't give away the plot but I will only say get this movie....you won't be sorry....
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
John H. (johnniemidnite) from LYNNWOOD, WA Reviewed on 4/26/2009...
In the realm of horror films, there's a lot of junk out there not worth watching. This, on the other hand is a great gem. A civil war ghost story with good creepy atmosphere and some really good shocks and scares. Take chance on it. You won't be disappointed.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Not So "Sweet Home Alabama"
Elaine | The Deep, Dark, Gothic South, USA | 03/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I LOVE horror movies and can usually watch them without hiding my eyes but this one...brrrrrr!!! SUCH a sense of dread about it! And the wonderful setting in an old Alabama plantation. AND the absolutely horrific creatures! I think this is one of the most truly original horror movies I've ever seen, directed by first-time feature film director Alex Turner and written by Simon Barrett with the unique setting of the Civil War South. The cast is great, led by Henry Thomas ("All the Pretty Horses", "ET"), Patrick Fugit ("Almost Famous"), Isaiah Washington ("Ghost Ship") and Nicki Aycox ("Jeepers Creepers II") and the production design by Leslie Keel ("May") is wonderful although I believe that, like the remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", most of the movie was filmed in the actual plantation. Which makes the atmosphere all the more realistic. The cinematography is amazing as well, done by Steve Yedlin ("May", "Toolbox Murders" ) in a sort of sepia tone that brings the era to life. The plot is fairly simple - a band of Confederate deserters bloodily rob a bank of it's gold and hide out in a plantation that one of the men had been told about by a former war comrade. A storm traps them there and then the "fun" begins as they each start suspecting the other of things that are happening around them (sinister noises, disappearances, ghastly visions, etc.). Claustrophobic, creepy, horrifying images, gore - it's all there for horror fans. HIGHLY recommended!! And VERY disturbing - DON'T look under your bed after watching this! OR go playing in a cornfield!"
A creepy film that really delivers the goods
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 06/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The black heart of horror no longer beats in Hollywood, as none of the major players even try to come up with original, let alone good, horror films these days. All is not lost, however, as indie filmmakers have risen up to carry the dark banner. Do not look askance at all of today's low-budget, direct-to-video horror offerings, for only here can you find new horror films of substance and genuine creepiness. You would do well to start right here with Dead Birds, as director Alex Turner has given us one gem of a horror movie.
Things start off with a bang - well, several bangs, really - as a group of no-good outlaws rob an Alabama bank in 1863. These guys are free and easy with their trigger fingers and knives, leaving a real mess of blood and gore in their wake. It's bad enough that they slaughter innocent civilians, but they go too far when they also kill a group of Rebel soldiers trying to deposit two bags of Confederate gold. Thus it was established that, whatever happened to them, these guys would get no sympathy from me. I was actually a tad concerned about the gore in this early scene, though - it was effective but a tad gratuitous (does a head really explode in such a complete manner from one well-placed shot?), and I worried that the filmmaker was trying a little too hard to play up to us gorehounds. Such concerns quickly fell by the wayside, as the rest of the film is masterfully done.
The gang (which includes a woman as well as a black man) rides off in search of a certain plantation house the leader learned about from a fellow wounded soldier, planning to bed there overnight before heading off to Mexico with their new riches. Personally, I would have taken one look at that deserted plantation house and kept on riding, but the gang moves on in for the night. They find respite from an approaching thunderstorm, but there will be no rest for the weary tonight. It's pretty easy to see that this house just isn't right; heck, some unclassifiable beast runs out of the cornstalks at them before they even get close to the front door. One by one, these hardened outlaws are given glimpses of the dark history of the place - it starts out with the usual kind of stuff (e.g., giggles, voices, creaks, etc.) but the cinematography makes it work like gangbusters. Eventually, ghostly images appear and, more often that not, morph into frightening demonic creatures. The CGI is rather Grudge-ish, yet it is very effective. Of course, the key to good horror is not the ghostly manifestations, it is the atmosphere and level of suspense that precede and accompany them - and this is where Dead Birds truly excels. If you're like me and watching this movie alone, odds are you will find yourself advising the characters on screen not to do this or to stay away from that or to simply run like the dickens (or words to that effect) on more than one occasion. The characters, I can assure you, will not heed your advice, even as things get spookier and more dangerous as the night wears on.
Some of the movie descriptions that I saw led me to believe the characters all turn on one another - this is misleading. Naturally, any group of outlaws hovering over two big bags of gold are going to be suspicious of one another (and there is also a touch of racial distrust for the black man thrown into the mix), but you won't see these characters act on their suspicions and become the agents of their own destruction. The threat here is external and very, very real.
Aside from a somewhat shaky start, the actors really grow into their respective roles, and that makes the horrors all the more effective. You may recognize Henry Thomas, the fellow playing the leader of the gang - I knew he looked familiar, but I didn't recognize him as young Elliott from E.T. until I discovered that piece of information in another review. The female character, Nicki Aycox, looks a lot like Lisa Marie Presley, but that's neither here nor there. I must admit, though, that the film's title, while catchy, is a bit of a puzzler, as only one oblique reference is made to dead birds during the film.
Is the movie scary? Not necessarily. It is, however, thoroughly creepy, and I much prefer a creepy movie over a scary one. A good scare can be exhilarating, but it's over and done with in a hurry. Creepiness, in contrast, works its way into your bones, where it is distilled into something that stays with you long after the original source of the creep factor is gone. That, if you ask me, is what horror is really all about - and, I am glad to say, that is also what Dead Birds is all about. That is exactly why I love this movie."
Very well done!
Zombilicious | Raleigh, NC United States | 07/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bank robbers stumble upon an abandoned house and decide to rest there for the night. However, they soon find out that they are not alone in the house.
When I initially purchased this movie, I saw a couple of good reviews about it. I really expected it to be a low-budget cheesy B movie, but was pleasantly surprised at how good it was as a movie itself. Keep in mind that it IS a low budget flick with campy special effects, but you barely notice it. The circular ending was very well done. I actually applauded at the end....which is unusual for me. I would highly recommend this movie."
Not half bad at all.
Cherie Priest | Seattle, Washington | 11/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Picture it: Alabama, 1863. A band of southerners robs a bank and high-tails it for Mexico, with an escape route that calls for a pit stop in an abandoned farmhouse. The six fugitives hole up for the night in the empty home, which turns out to be a critically bad idea. Starring Henry Thomas as William, the gang's ringleader.
Once this movie had been underway for a few minutes, a rather shocking something occurred to both me and my significant other almost simultaneously: these guys sounded southern. And by "southern" I don't mean, "I took twenty hours of voice coach classes per week in order to nail down a y'all that would make anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line shoot French fries through his or her respective nose with laughter, because I'm a Damn Yankee and I'm not fooling anyone."
What I mean is, they talked like the people who live around here do. Seriously. I was floored. You almost never hear a southern character sound like an honest-to-God southerner in the movies. Imported actors don't sound like they're from Georgia; they sound like they've had their consonants beaten out of them with a tray of cornbread.
Now my boyfriend and I knew, when we flashed that fateful Blockbuster card, that this was a low-budget movie; but we had no idea it was so low budget that the director was forced to cast actual southerners.
At any rate. So you've got six ex-Confederate banditos on the run, having recently emptied a bank in a bloody and profitable fashion. Their goal is to make it south of the border, but on the way they stop for the night at an abandoned farmhouse -- a farmhouse which, unlike some stories of this ilk -- has not been arbitrarily, mysteriously abandoned for no good reason whatsoever. Our robbers do not merely stumble across it in a streak of suicidally bad luck. No, the house and property were inherited by a friend and fellow soldier of William's, but this friend died in battle before he could claim the property.
Voila! Instant hide-out. Just add criminals.
Granted, the house has a few genre strikes against it -- but in 1863 our protagonists might not be aware of them yet, so I'm prepared to forgive them. For one thing, the only way to reach the house is through a huge cornfield; and if horror has taught us nothing, it is that corn kills. It's the crop of the damned. Just ask Stephen King, or M. Night Shyamalan. "Grow soybeans instead," that's what they'll tell you.
Another bad sign of impending doom: the house features a cellar door that flat refuses to open. For those of you who may not watch a lot of horror, the "locked cellar door" is the mystery equivalent of "the gun over the mantle." By the end of that movie, some poor schmuck is going to open that door and go down there alone. Again, though, Dark Birds bucks the trend. Rather than letting the group's lone female skip downstairs in a flimsy nightie, the writers eventually send an intelligent, good-sized, well-armed black man who could shoot a fly off a crap wagon at twenty paces. And no, he doesn't die down there.
In fact, one of the more charming aspects of this film was the way that none of the characters did too much stupid -- "Hey, what's that out there in the corn? I know it's dark, and it's raining, and there are skinless fanged dog-beasts roaming the rows, but heck, I'm going to go check it out." This does happen a little bit as a matter of narrative necessity, but it goes down towards the end of the film and with fairly good reason. For once, we've got a horror movie that features southerners behaving like reasonable people -- not as redneck chainsaw fodder or homicidal six-toed inbreds. Will wonders never cease?
I do admit that there were a few loose ends, and that the ending left me a bit confused -- even after I'd thought about it enough to declare that I "got it." But overall I really liked this thing. It was genuinely suspenseful for all of its reliance on cliche, and the atmosphere was damn near perfect. The characters relate in a believable fashion, both to each other and to the encroaching threat, and the special effects were surprisingly good and sparingly used. I'm not easily impressed by indie horror, and I'm not afraid to make fun of it either -- but this one is worthy of a watch.
Not bad at all.
Deimos | Alberta | 02/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this flick, great suspence, scares and effects. Will definatly watch again and pick up the DVD."