28th Dec2020

‘Songbird’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: KJ Apa, Sofia Carson, Bradley Whitford, Demi Moore, Craig Robinson, Paul Walter Hauser, Alexandra Daddario | Written by Adam Mason, Simon Boyes | Directed by Adam Mason

I feel like in the pantheon of missed opportunities, Songbird is going to go down as one of the biggest. So much so that I was initially so disappointed I wasn’t going to bother reviewing this one!

I have been quoted as saying, more than once, that one of the things I am worried about on the other side of this god awful year we call 2020, is going to be a barrage of pandemic “covid lockdown” movies. I mean lets be clear these movies are going to happen because the industry THINKS that is what we want… This was one of the reasons I went into Shudder original flick Host thinking ‘OK then lets see how terrible this is.’ Then Host surprised me and did something really original, it played on natural fears and the whole pandemic was just a sub-plot which made it all the more intriguing because instead of being what the movie was about it became more the circumstances it was made in. These actresses had to do everything themselves including camera and stunts during a lockdown and that is impressive.

Maybe I was wrong! Maybe we are going to get some absolutely superb movies come out of this situation. After all it does kind of lend itself to a whole host of genres and sub-genres when you really think about it. Then Songbird came out and confirmed my fears, there are filmmakers out there who will undoubtedly take advantage of this uncertain situation and use it as a plot device for some awful scripting and mildly passable acting, just to bring us some absolute rubbish. Am I being too harsh? Let’s have a look…

It’s 2024 and a virus has spread across the world, the population is in lockdown apart from the lucky immune few. A Track and Trace app [that actually works] has been developed that scans you every day to check for the virus and if you test positive Peter Stormare turns up at you door to ship you off to quarantine. Welcome to the new normal! We spend the runtime with a handful of civilians who are living the best they can. KJ Apa (Archie from CW’s Riverdale) zips around the city doing deliveries no questions asked but when his would be girlfriend Sofia Carson (one of the Disney kids from The Descendants) is about to be forced into quarantine, he is in a race against time to save her from the powers that be.

Remember when The Purge came out and we spent that first movie in ‘a house’ and what was happening outside was only hinted at? The Purge 2 came around and we hit the streets to witness the mayhem. The Purge 3 comes round and it was more about how the Government was using the purge to control citizens. This was a perfect genre trilogy – the way it SHOULD be done. Songbird tries to do all three of those movies in one and fails to emulate even one of them! I mean, seriously, this was a hard watch for me… I could see what the filmmakers were trying to acheive and there was serious potential for this story to resonate but then they fill the screen with pretty good actors half-arsing their performances or the good ones being buried in godawful dialogue. When Craig Robinson is the best thing in your movie it doesn’t really bode well IMHO. That is in no way meant as a slight on Robinson, I really like the actor as it goes but he is a supporting character giving a better role than the ensemble!

Let’s get into the cast. Carson is very good in this and considering she is acting to a door (that’s her apartment door not KJ Apa… although…). For most of the film she really sold the character. Alexandra Daddario is heinously under used in this film; there was a real potential to make this character super interesting and they go down the road of trophy damsel in distress. Peter Stormare is playing a Home Bargains (it’s a budget shop in the U.K.) version of John Turturro as always but it is what he does best. Bradley Whitford is one of my favourite actors out there but I wasn’t feeling him in this and Demi Moore was wasted as his wife. Is it time for Demi to officially retire? I’m just not sure what she brings anymore. Thankfully, no matter what Paul Walter Hauser (Richard Jewell) does these days, I am sold. He is a shining light here in a very minimal role but I really like this actor and his performance.

In summation, if you saw the trailer for Songbird and can stomach watching the news just now then you have seen Songbird. This movie is a fairly shameful attempt to play on the real world situation we are in which personally I would usually think fiar play… but if your going to do this, at least make something compelling and interesting instead of hitting on every last little trope because your movie is about to get lost in a sea of drivel, during a time when all anyone really wants is escapism and to be entertained.

** 2/5


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