If They Fly You Die!
The packaging for Flu Birds gives a number of clues as to its dubious quality.
First, of course, is its juvenile tagline above.
Then, there's the garish cover art depicting a raven-ish bird with a human eyeball unconvincingly photoshopped in its beak.
If those hints weren't enough, there's the sticker on the cellophane wrapping the case with the script AS SEEN ON SCI FI. Yes, that's SCI FI as in the Sci-Fi Channel, the network that revels in low budget creature feature garbage. Fans of the cable channel are well-versed in the notoriously low quality and amazing plentiful movie output Sci-Fi is, in part, responsible for. Flu Birds falls in the lower end of the spectrum of these movies.
As far as creature feature films go, this run-around has a fairly standard story. Flu Birds focuses on a gang of juvenile delinquents who have been dumped off in the middle of the woods - without cell phones, of course - for some character-building camping experience. One of them, Ava (played by relative unknown Sarah Butler) is clearly smarter than the rest and intended to play the resourceful Final Girl role in the movie (though, without spoiling too much, Flu Birds lets a surprisingly large number of characters survive for the conclusion).
In any case, the wayward teenagers are attacked by a group of birds carrying avian flu. Well, I guess they're supposed to be birds - although they look nothing like the bird on the DVD cover. These birds are human-sized, a combination of CG and rubber costumes, and look like pterodactyls. Ava does manage to contact a doctor and a park ranger (the latter played by Lance Guest, who decades ago was in a popular science fiction action flick called The Last Starfighter) via walkie-talkie, and the pair try to rescue the plucky teens from the avian menace. Oh, the doctor and the park ranger used to be a couple, so there's some romantic tension between the two that needs to be resolved while the flu birds are on the attack.
Of course, there's also a homeland security task force on the prowl, so the government conspiracy and ineptitude angle is played up here as well.
A lot of unconvincing bird attacks and gore ensue.
Flu Birds is fairly bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, even by creature feature standards. There's some fun B-movie style mayhem, but the characters are completely uninteresting and the ending is underwhelming and disappointing. Ultimately, if you enjoy this type of movie and caught it on cable, you'd probably sit through it. But, I can't imagine that Flu Birds offers enough even for us genre fans to warrant renting or purchasing this. Skip it.
Give First Look Studios credit for presenting everything - including the trailers and menu system - in anamorphic widescreen. The film itself could use a little more detail, although it's not too bad. Colors seemed muted too.
Two English language audio tracks are presented: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. The 5.1 track appears to be the default and the one I listened to. The score and sound effects came across strong, but dialogue seemed inconsistent - with some lines delivered faintly.
Subtitles are offered in English and Spanish.
Trailers precede the main menu for Transsiberian, Sharks in Venice, Sukiyaki Western Django, and Ghouls. A Previews link in the menu system gives access to these trailers as well as Flu Birds, Cyborg Soldier, Kill Switch, and War, Inc.. And that's it for extras.
Flu Birds is best viewed as a time-waster creature feature on cable. The DVD is best kept in quarantine - just skip it.