Review: Pandemic thriller 'Songbird' is the wrong movie at the wrong time
Courtesy of STX Films
Considering everyone’s daily lives have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Micheal Bay can’t resist the urge to exploit a serious disease that’s literally killing people, along comes “Songbird,” a quick cash grab from schlock filmmaker Adam Mason that was hastily put into production using strict safety protocols and asks the question: What if COVID never got cured?
I know people joke about the phrase: “Too soon” - but holy shit did Bay and his cohorts need to read the room. It’s not enough that most of the world is seeing a surge in cases, or the fact we’re all hunkered down waiting for a return to normalcy, “Songbird” is a giant gimmick that’s attitude towards the virus insults those who succumbed to it. Nevermind the pandemic storyline of it all, Adam Mason and Simon Boyes script isn’t anything to sing about.
Set in the year 2024, where COVID-23 (a deadlier strain of Coronavirus) is running rampant, daily health checks are mandated by law, it’s illegal to leave your home, and you get sent to the “Q Zone'' if you become infected. Folks communicate via Facetime, the streets are empty, and the country is on the brink of desolation.
So basically 2020 in a nutshell.
Those who are lucky enough to venture out of their homes must pass an immunity test, in which they are given a yellow bracelet to go through security checkpoints. Without it, you’re shot on the spot. K.J. Apa plays Nico who fashions one of those yellow bracelets and delivers packages for an Amazon like company headed by Lester (Craig Robinson). He’s struck up a cute relationship with one of his clients, Sara (Sofia Carson) and spends his evenings romanticizing her about getting out of California and making a run for a nearby safe zone. A place where infections are non-existent.
Their plans hit a bump when Sara’s grandmother - who she lives with - contracts COVID-23, forcing Nico to track down immunity bracelets on the blackmarket, through a wealthy couple played by Bradley Whitford and Demi Moore, or risk Sara getting transported to the “Q Zone” for good. Meanwhile, Paul Walter Hauser shows up for reasons I can’t explain as a wheelchair stricken veteren who begins an online courtship with a rising YouTube star (played by Alexandra Daddario) and has a drone that can shoot people with insane accuracy.
Running at a measly 82 minutes, it’s a remarkable achievement how overstuffed “Songbird” is. If we’re not keeping up with Whitford, who pre-pandemic was a famous record producer that engages in one of the weirdest sex scenes I’ve ever witnessed, then we cut across town to Robinson calling the action from his rolling chair. You can tell the film was made during the pandemic because not many folks share scenes together, which kept making me wonder: “Why?”
Obviously “Songbird” is a fictionalized version of a pandemic we’re currently living and this isn’t the first movie shot and edited during quarantine (that distinction goes to “Host”) but it feels like the wrong movie at the wrong time. Even if the love story between Nico and Sara had the slightest inclination of believability (it doesn’t), “Songbird” would still suffer from it’s blatant disregard for those affected by this pandemic. I hope these producers don’t think it's creative to be the first movie about COVID (they probably do), but something tells me if this movie is even remotely successful, it won’t be the last.
Let’s not make these trashy and exploitative films the new normal.
SONGBIRD debuts on Premium VOD Friday, December 11th.