Kaw (2007)

Kaw (2007)

Don’t look up

Sheriff Wayne has only one more day left on the job before moving to the city for a better life with his wife. But his last day is going to be anything but typical. His town comes under attack from a flock of blood-thirsty ravens, preying on the townsfolk and causing widespread panic.

 

Taking its cue from Hitchcock’s classic The Birds, Kaw is proof that you shouldn’t just dismiss a film as a rip-off, cash-in or feeble reworking of an older film. Kaw is hardly number one when it comes to originality but I was pleasantly surprised with the proceedings. You don’t get too many ‘birds run amok’ films, lest we forget the abomination that was The Birds II: Land’s End. So it’s not like it’s an overworked sub-genre. However when the film leading the genre charge is Hitchcock’s previously stated classic, then it’s hard to try anything new without drawing the obvious criticisms.

On its own, Kaw works as an average horror-thriller. Birds aren’t exactly the scariest thing on this planet but if you’ve ever looked at those ravens or crows, then you’ll come to the same conclusion I do – they are evil. Why do they need to be as jet black, have massive claws and gigantic beaks that could swallow small field mice whole? The ravens here have been feeding off dead cows which had mad cow disease. So the ravens themselves are infected. At least it beats genetically engineered birds for a change. Attacking in flocks, the ravens pose more of a threat in numbers. It always made me wonder why the humans in these films always go down so easily when being attacked by a big flock of birds. It’s not like they’re grossly overpowering. The attack scenes aren’t too bad and there are plenty of them throughout the film. There isn’t a huge amount of blood with the majority being confined to grisly shots of dead bodies with their eyes pecked out. CGI is kept to a minimum so most of the birds are real – always nice to see! And above all the setting is just what the film needs – some town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by open fields and woods. You wouldn’t want something like this happening in New York or London.

Even the human side of the film, so often the downfall of this type of flick, is good. Sean Patrick Flannery doesn’t exactly stand out as the sheriff but he’s the kind of ‘everyman’ hero that a film like this needs, not some super-invincible character who leaps around to save the day. In a supporting role, Stephen McHattie is one of those actors you always see but can never name him or any other film he’s been in. I guess that’s what IMDB is for. Rod Taylor, star of The Birds, makes a small appearance in the film as the local doctor. The guy might have been seventy-seven when filming but I’m sorry to say he hasn’t aged as well as the likes of Clint Eastwood and Christopher Lee have. I would have liked to see some sort of in-joke or throwaway gag involving Taylor’s character and his previous escapades with birds but the film was played out straight so there was no chance of that.

 

Kaw is a pretty decent horror-thriller which, despite its blatant pillaging of The Birds, manages to conjure up a few tricks here and there. It’s nothing flash but gets the job done. In a day where I dread putting the next ‘monster on the loose’ flick into my DVD player, it’s refreshing to find one that doesn’t completely suck. I guess that’s a compliment but given how many appalling films I’ve seen lately, Kaw is like a breath of fresh air! Competently acted, competently directed and competently….er…just competent overall!

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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