Movie Review: Songbird
Escapism has been a facet of filmmaking for decades. Passed down from filmmaker to filmmaker, those looking to extract audiences from reality have been dependable magic makers. Dreamers that look to keep our minds away from current events. Innovative creators who can pull us out of the dreary hell that is modern life and into a distant land full of space pirates, dragons or whatever else film wishes to throw at us. Depicting what will happen if we don’t start wearing masks over our nose and mouths, Songbird is a stunningly poor judge of public mood, a film which describes the events of a four-year lockdown, as the coronavirus takes on a deadly strand leaving millions dead.
Somehow coaxing Peter Stormare and Craig Robinson into prominent roles, Songbird and hack director behind it all, Adam Mason, conjure up bleak apocalyptic proportions that have made the rounds in so many films before it. Ripping off as many tropes as it can from every vaguely conceivable pandemic picture, Songbird, throughout its entire running time, has not a single note of uniqueness. Its only draw is modernity, of which it cannot even control. Springing years into the future when the coronavirus has devastated the planet, Songbird shows an apocalyptic dystopia where nature has taken over the cities once more, while people are confined entirely to their homes. Aside from the obvious housekeeping and shopping issues this immediately flags up, it would have been at least interesting to see anything that wasn’t leading man K.J. Apa.
Presenting the normality we all wish to return to; clunky camerawork provides odd close-ups of characters we are never introduced to formally. We are expected to fill in the gaps ourselves, either because Mason cannot fathom the concept of named characters, or because he wishes to use these as hosts for a larger meaning. A message of lockdown woes, ones that are found in the lives of everyday citizens. To suggest the latter would be to give far too much credit to Mason and Simon Boyes’ writing collaboration. A courier service set up for the 0.01% of those immune to the virus, they are tasked with delivering food and supplies to those who can afford it, and is the subject of much discrimination due to their immunity.
Conjuring up fatally dumb apocalyptic imagery that will rattle the cage of the cynical and conspiratorial, Songbird fails as both a narrative and a cinematic sedative. Is it too early for films about the coronavirus pandemic? Most likely. Some may believe there is still a decent chance of this happening, while others have begrudgingly accepted that the fallout bunker they dug in their back garden is seeming like overkill. Songbird would have you believe that the worst is yet to come. That being said, Songbird is one of the worst films to come out of these locked down days, forever associating itself with the list of horrible events society is adamantly attempting to forget.