Plot: What’s it about?
A bank heist turned lethal, as the robbers gunned down the locals in a blood soaked escape, which left behind a trail of dead bodies. The exit was brutal, with heads being blown to pieces and most tragic, a young child was shot to death. The crooks managed to make off with a large amount of gold, four bags in total and even after the split, each will make out quite well. The plan is to head to Mexico and divide the loot there, but before that can happen, a brief stop at their hideout is in order. The crew will spend the night at the isolated plantation and then venture off in the morning, to enjoy the fruits of their horrific labors. As they arrive on the lot, they’re attacked by some strange creature, which is passed off as a hairless boar. The attack shakes up the crooks to an extent, but enough to pull their attention from the gold. Of course, trust is rare in a circle of thieves, so no one is going to sleep with both eyes open. But when the house itself begins to manifest some strange events, an already tense situation turns into chaos. Will anyone will be able to survive this night of supernatural horror, or will the house claim the outlaws as its own?
The horror genre was on the ropes for a while, with few new theatrical installments and a mess of lame, direct to video schlock. But in the last couple of years, a tidal wave of theatrical terror has been unleashed and while not always the best examples of horror, at least genre fans have some options. The rush has carried over to the video aisles as well, as a wider selection of direct to video titles has been become available, thanks to studios in the mood for thrills and chills. Dead Birds is a movie that lacks profile, which is a shame, as it is a rare element, a horror movie with some original touches. Dead Birds isn’t about college parties, raves, or summer camps, instead the story takes place during the Civil War. The period setting works wonders, if just as a breath of fresh air from the usual teen fueled slashers. The film opens in bold fashion, then backs down a little, but only to tighten the thumb screws for a later payoff. The final reel is impressive and is so because of the tense buildup, so while the pace is a tad slow at times, all chips are cashed in at the end. Columbia’s disc is a fantastic treatment, so for fans of horror, Dead Birds earns a high recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Dead Birds is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film throws out some visual tricks to enhance the images, but this transfer never slips and delivers a dynamic, top notch presentation. The colors wander the spectrum from lifeless and dull to quite bright, dependent upon the scene at hand, while black levels remain sharp and flawless throughout. I saw no evidence of compression errors either and aside from some slight grain, I have no complaints with this treatment. I know this had to be somewhat of a challenge to transfer to DVD, but Columbia has done some impressive work and fans should be satisfied here.
Audio: How does it sound?
Although the film opens with a loud, brash sequence, the film soon turns more atmospheric and tense, so the soundtrack has to evolve as well. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option keeps the balance intact and then some, with a more than solid presence throughout. The tense and action driven scenes put the speakers through the paces with creative and highly effective presence, which adds to the eerie, offbeat atmosphere. The more reserved scenes also sound terrific, while the musical score is tight & immersive here, a very memorable audio treatment indeed. This disc also includes subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Portuguese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A solo commentary with director Alex Turner is up first, in which he spends a lot of time thanking his cast and crew. This sounds like the usual self promotional fluff, but that is so much the case here, as his thanks also shed light on the filmmaking process. Or more to the point, he reveals how he was able to do so much with such limited resources, which makes for an interesting track. Turner returns in the second session, in which he is joined by several members of the cast and crew. This is more of the same, though he also hear about the different perspectives during the production, which was cool. This disc also includes a brisk, but solid look behind the scenes, as well as a selection of deleted scenes.