Good morning, WoDer’s! It’s time to maybe have a little breakfast to start the day! Don’t forget to wash the dishes when you’re done. If a bird flies into the window as you’re washing, feel free to feel bad for the poor fella. If TWO BiRDS fly into the window, just stay in the kitchen…. It’s much safer in the kitchen…
As so (not) cleverly hinted, today’s film is “Two Birds” from writer/director Brendan Beachman. The film starts off bright, cheery, “normal,” dare I say! Just an average morning of domestic bliss, the sun is shining, cheerful music is being streamed from a phone… Just ignore the sounds of breaking glass and those nasty bruises. Ignore whatever is being whispered in your ear (you won’t hear it anyway), and, remember, it’s safer in the kitchen.
Time for your reviewer to “fess up and come clean…” I’ve been watching, thinking, re-watching, re-thinking, and re-re-watching the short for three hours now trying to come up with something witty, insightful and telling, but, honestly, I’m not entirely certain I know what’s happening here. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what Beachman was after. There are hints of a problematic relationship, and the title “Two Birds” has various connotations – metaphorical references to the two main characters, “gilded cage” allusions, perhaps a desire to fly free – but once we get into the meat of the story, I’m not certain if I’m watching a dream, a metaphor or “reality” within the film’s world. Is the “monster” a truly demonic force, a hallucination of the protagonist, an ex of the protagonist? Beats the hell out of me! Imagery involving glass, knives, lights, blood all combine to gradually raise the level of tension, and I assume each prop has significance. There is only petty little nit I can raise – the non-smoking actress trying to look comfortable with the cigarette doesn’t work, but I’m assuming there’s a story meaning to the smoke. Again, this kind of ambiguity isn’t a bad thing… If I’d watched with someone else (not counting the cat), we could have had a nice discussion forming and discarding theories about the questions raised. Films that engender discussion are a good thing! I think the ambiguity here is a testament to the skill of the cast and crew. Without naming names there are other WoD shorts that have been ambiguous, but many of those are ambiguous because of genuine problems with the script or execution. “Two Birds” is obviously meticulously planned out and detailed, and I think the fault here is me, looking too hard for definitive answers to a script that has much mystery.
What can be said with absolute authority is Beachman gets interesting performances from his cast, Avital Ash, Sarah Greyson and Nea Dune. Colin Arndt’s cinematography is well composed, unobtrusive, and has one particularly nice camera move (that didn’t set up what I thought it was setting up – good surprise! Practical effects are spot on, and the “lip makeup” is painful looking (Good for Makeup Designer Emily Brock). Justin Marshall Elias provides a bouncy score that contrasts nicely with the somber mood, Clifton Carlson not only creates a fully realized world with his audio design, he’s gone the extra step to keep audio effects aligned to the viewpoint position of the camera. It’s a small step that’s often overlooked, and, as someone who has done audio design myself, I know audio almost never gets a shout out unless they’ve screwed up – Clifton, I’m indulging in a long shout out for you over a door creak bridging a camera cut! VFX artist Michael Matzur nails his role – his work calls no attention to itself at all, which is a compliment in this case. VFX are supposed to be invisible. The editing keeps everything moving along and shifts smoothly from one tone and mood into the next as events grow more mysterious and ominous. While I’m honestly not certain what’s going on in the story, I didn’t get bored or frustrated in the eight times I watched through. I think I’ll end with that! No one watches a film – short or feature – eight times if it’s not well done and more than worth the time.
– Michael M. Miller
World of Death is the web series that fans of independent horror have been waiting for. Featuring short horror films from all over the globe created by the largest variety of talent that a collection has ever been able to boast, WOD provides plenty of blood, guts, screams and laughs for all fans of the macabre. And with episodes averaging around eight minutes in length, WOD is the perfect entertainment for a fan base constantly on the go. Watch it anywhere, at any time, for FREE! New episodes premiere every Wednesday at 10am CST.