Film Review: WHEN BLACK BIRDS FLY (2016)

Film Review: WHEN BLACK BIRDS FLY (2016)

Jan 14, 2016

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Jimmy ScreamerClauz literally took years to create this independent labor of love. In this film, he writes, directs, produces, animates, and even works on the soundtrack. The dedication and attention to detail in this film is what truly fascinates me about the independent film world. Without people like Jimmy, after all, the film fan would be stuck with whatever the mainstream wanted to throw at them.

In the film, a couple in the suburban-esque town of Heaven are given the gift of child birth. After choosing their “child”, which looks more like a worm, they decide to name him Marius. The imagery in the scene with the “babies” reminds me of  Eraserhead, where a child is turned into a hideous being that represents a different metaphor to different viewers. The process in which they receive this child is also reminiscent of literary dystopian societies modeled after Huxley’s Brave New World. What is amazing about this film, is that these first few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the film there are numerous literary, cinematic, and religious allusions that the keen viewer will have fun finding.

The story, as a whole, is a blatant religious allegory. The leader, Caine, has a disturbing amount of control over his people. As the child grows, he is tempted to leave town with his friend Eden, by an injured  kitten. This, of course, leads them to eat some forbidden fruit. Soon after their sin, “The Evil One” introduces the children to the lies of Caine. The indictment of Cain and his blind followers, is an obvious statement about religion. The film uses this as a jumping off point to take the viewer through multiple Biblical stories. New interpretations for the stories of Satan’s fall from grace, as well as Adam and Eve in The Garden of Eden are told in a new way in this film. Even the viewer that thinks re-telling these stories is a worn out tactic will appreciate the medium in which the story is told.

The chosen medium, of course, is the animation. It’s not just the decision to animate though. It’s the fact that it is original, well done, and just straight up cool animation. The filmmaker’s technique has given me a completely different way of looking at the horror film. Sure, there are scary cartoons out there, but this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It seems to take influence from many different types of animation. It is computerized and three dimensional; but, it also has moments that feel like clay-mation and effects similar to old-school film reels. It even employs psychedelic effects and mixes in some gore. So, I’m trying to say that there is a lot going on. The people, settings, and backgrounds are black and white, while elaborately chosen details are given color. All of this madness, however, doesn’t hurt the viewing experience. The film is deliberate and artistic. It never confuses itself or the viewer. I found it to be an incredibly addictive viewing experience.

So if you’re looking for a twisted allegorical fairy tale, this may be for you. At times, the journey of the children seems like Alice in Wonderland on LSD. This is the type of film that you may want to see on some type of substance. I, however, watched it sober and was completely satisfied. I truly appreciated the artistic and horrific elements. I loved how it managed to get darker and darker as the story progressed. At one hour and forty-five minutes this film should be too long. As it progresses, however, it becomes exceedingly dark. Religious insanity, violent gore, and sexual depravity run right up to the final climactic showdown, a showdown between good and evil that will leave you speechless.


This film is available, as of today, at Best Buy and on Amazon. You can also go and like the film’s page on FB, follow the updates, and buy the film directly from the man himself. Additionally, you should probably check out his YouTube channel, watch his short films, and follow his animation career.