Imagine this scenario: a board room on a studio lot in sunny Burbank. It’s September 11th, 2001, and executives are watching the horrifying tragedy in New York City unfold on a television set that was wheeled in by an intern while another intern delivered everyone’s coffee orders. One executive at the end of the table shakes their head and sighs. Another says “how could this happen?”. They sit in silence for a moment, until one of them raises their head from the table and says, “How can we profit from this?” They begin to mutter amongst themselves, until one mentions they could make a film about a second attack, one that takes down three towers. 

This is the kind of soulless and inhuman decision-making that led to Songbird, the most immoral and irresponsible film of the past decade. For every round of discourse on films that might fit the term “problematic”, this is the first one in a while that feels like a crime against humanity. The filmmakers behind Songbird (producers Michael Bay, Marcei A. Brown, Jason Clark, Jeanette Volturno, Adam Goodman, Andrew Sugerman, Eben Davidson, and director Adam Mason, and I list them all because they should be shamed in public at every possible moment) knew they were profiting off of an active disaster that’s killed more than 1.58 million people worldwide, destroyed millions of businesses, and left America in its worst state since the Great Depression. They just didn’t give a fuck because dollar signs replaced their retinas. It is the worst kind of filmmaking, one that profits off of active tragedy and gleefully reaps money from audiences who might view the film and think it to be proof of a conspiracy that affirms their decision to not wear a mask and not care about their fellow man. It’s one thing to make a film about a historical tragedy; it’s another to make a film about one while it’s actively happening. Every dollar earned by this film is drenched in blood. 

Here’s the plotline that was slapped together by the director and writer Adam Boyes. In 2024, the current COVID-19 strain has mutated into a much deadlier and more easily spreadable “COVID-23” that kills more than 56% of those it infects. The film takes place in an apocalyptic Los Angeles where the infected are forcibly removed from their homes and taken into “Q-Zones” (concentration camps under a more palatable name) or killed for resistance. Nico (KJ Apa) is a package courier and a “Muny”, one of the lucky few to be immune to the deadly virus. He’s dating Sara (Sofia Carson) despite the fact that they’ve never been in the same room due to the city being under lockdown. They’re supposed to be in love, or at least that’s what her abuelita says to try and convince the audience that they’re star crossed lovers. When her grandmother becomes sick and dies, the Department of Sanitation (led by Peter Stormare in full cartoon mode) believes that Sara is sick as well, and Nico finds himself in a race against time to get her a highly-coveted immunity bracelet from the black market just like his to save her from certain death in the Q-Zone.

Meanwhile, the film also drags in subplots involving the extremely rich William and Piper Griffin (Bradley Whitford and Demi Moore), who earn money from selling illicit immunity bracelets while staying in their mansion; Lester (Craig Robinson), Nico’s boss who gets dragged into the quest to save Sara; aspiring singer May (Alexandra Daddario) who spends all day on livestream singing songs to earn money; and Lester’s employee Michael (Paul Walter Hauser), a disabled war veteran and drone whiz who has a huge crush on May. The film spends the first half or so of its mercifully short 85 minute runtime introducing the audience to all the characters mentioned above. It resembles a film directed by Robert Altman if he was given a lobotomy. Once the film finally kicks into its action, the sloppily written characters and barely sketched out situation is just too dull to pay attention to. The only laughably interesting part is the reveal that William is cheating on Piper with May, in a hilariously stupid scene where they meet at her motel room, and he wears a gas mask while she gives him a lap dance in a lace facemask and a face shield. 

If you must watch Songbird, pirate it. None of these people deserve your hard-earned wages. They only deserve shame. The film is, at the end of the day, a muddled mess that’s aware of its horrible existence and tries to waffle on its anti-human, pro-”freedom” message that clashes with the grim reality of our current lives. Everyone involved can go burn in Hell. 


F Review

coleduffy View All →

21, born and raised in Boston. Mamma Mia wine mom personality. Jerry Gogosian of the film world.

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