Starring Kathleen Munroe. Rated 14A
If alien creatures came to Earth, watched a lot of cable-TV mysteries, soft-core porn, and choice episodes of Twin Peaks, then attempted to craft a movie themselves, it might look something like Birdland.
The “story” involves cops who resemble models and a mystery twist no one will care about. For no discernible reason, most character names have something to do with the avian world. Then there’s Tom Kale, “a mild-mannered ornithologist”, as he’s described after being arrested for murdering two people. He’s played by David Alpay, whose dead-eyed acting personally scuttled Atom Egoyan’s epic Ararat. But, as they almost say, a sinking tide lowers all boats, and every performer is worse than the others at some point.
The chief offender, only because we spend the whole 90 minutes with her, is Kathleen Munroe, as Det. Sheila Hood, the Hope Hicks of Toronto’s elite homicide squad. That eggheaded scientist is her husband, suspected of snuffing out his rich mistress (Melanie Scrofano) and her pimpy protector, called Starling (Joris Jarsky).
“When it comes to murder, everyone’s a suspect,” Sheila spits out, when first questioned. Like, even Jane Goodall and Desmond Tutu? Her repartee is with the investigating officer (Benjamin Ayres), who gets to yell lines like “Tom uses Hazel, Merle’s sister, for his blue-kimono fetish!” Oh, now I get it.
The cops don’t meet where they work but instead rendezvous in a darkened warehouse with a single bare bulb overhead. Adam Swica’s wide-screen cinematography is the best thing here, but all the setups are repeated so often in the absurdly scattershot editing, supported by cheesy synthesizer music, that everything looks even cheaper.
Along the way, there are 50 shades of aborted subplots involving silk ropes, bird skeletons, crossbows, sub-Egoyan surveillance, and (guess what) cigarette smoke. Sorry, no nudity. The actors are native speakers but seem to be using phonetic English. “To be berfectly honest, grime bores me,” someone slurs during a nightclub scene featuring a version of “Lullaby of Birdland” that would make Fergie hold her nose.
This bushtit-brained effort is a first move into narrative filmmaking by veteran doc director Peter Lynch, of Project Grizzly fame. Seriously, dude: just don’t. Seeing someone’s recognizable name on it means nobody can honestly say “Hey, not bad for aliens!”