The town of Heaven is truly that — heaven. Caine oversees the happiness of his people and provides for them everything they need with only one rule they must follow: do not communicate with The Evil One that lives beyond the walls of Heaven. A newly born child named Marius plays near the wall one day and sees a cat with a broken leg. The young boy crosses into the forbidden territory in an attempt to help the cat but soon finds himself falling down the rabbit hole and discovers the truth about his world.
I know Film Bizarro has been quiet on the Jimmy ScreamerClauze front and his debut film, “Where the Dead Go to Die” but there was a reason for that. Ronny reviewed two of the original short films — “Tainted Milk” and “Liquid Memories” — several years ago. Long before they were edited into one movie. Back when ScreamerClauz was still working under the pseudonym Jimmy Creamer. Because of that, we didn’t feel the need to revisit the material since there wasn’t too much of a difference.
Now, having said that, even though I personally haven’t seen “Where the Dead Go to Die” yet I still wanted to check out ScreamerClauz’s latest feature, “When Black Birds Fly”, since it was premiering at the Housecore Horror Festival.
Marius is the latest child to be born into the world of Heaven — a utopia where everyone is happy and allowed to do as they please as long as they follow one very important rule: do not go beyond the wall that separates Heaven from The Evil One. A simple rule that everyone gladly follows since Caine — the man who overseas Heaven — gives everyone all the things that they could possibly desire. Even so, Marius still finds himself drawn to the mystery of what lies beyond the wall and soon, after finding a small opening, he crosses over into the other world with his classmate, Eden. Once there, Marius and Eden find themselves on a nightmarish journey where they discover the origin of man and all of the dark secrets Caine tries to hide from the people of Heaven.
After having my first real introduction into the world of Jimmy ScreamerClauz, I was left with mixed feelings on the experience. With it being my first foray into this bizarre animation style, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the movie. And if I’m honest, I figured “When Black Birds Fly” was going to be a movie that did little more than dwell on its visuals, leaving me with nothing more than an empty vessel that only serves to display an animation style that I’m not quite sure on how to describe.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. “Where Black Birds Fly” features a relatively complex story that I certainly wasn’t expecting. Actually, I didn’t have any expectations for the story so I found myself drawn into the movie by its abstract concept of metaphysical horror. What made it particularly interesting, for me, is that the movie starts off with this rather mundane concept of people living in an isolated community that’s restricted from going beyond a wall that separates the people from the evil that lurks behind it. A rather common theme in the realm of science fiction — isolated community, curious people go into the forbidden territory, they discover the truth of their existence, their findings threaten the very way of life, etc. — and naturally, our set of main characters defy the rules and discover the reality of the lives they live.
The focus of the plot shifts from being about the character of Marius to the very notion of existence. It would have been easy for the film to get lost to such a broad concept — especially since there are no limitations when the feature is animated. Respectfully, Jimmy keeps the focus tight on his movie’s purpose and doesn’t let it stray too far off into the abstract or allow the different ideas to stray from the core concept. Instead he explores the themes of things such as God, love, creation, and existence through his unusual animation style. The focus on the concept and its ability to cover those different themes that's tied together through this stark idea of why humanity was created, through a repeating cycle of emptiness made the story extremely satisfying.
And as much as I enjoyed the story of “When Black Birds Fly” the movie eventually lost me because the visual style was overbearing. I know, that seems like a silly thing to complain about with a Jimmy ScreamerClauz movie since that’s what his fans love the most. For me though, there was no separation between the worlds that are used as the set pieces of the movie’s story — everything has the same look and everything is animated the same. There’s no distinction. There’s no breathing room. You’re just hammered repeatedly with Jimmy’s unique style which, depending on the viewer, can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, it was bad because I was exhausted with the movie by the visuals alone even though I was only halfway through with the movie. The indistinguishable and repetitive nature of the animation simply becomes boring after so long. If it hadn’t been for the story, I’m not sure if I would have stuck around to finish the movie.
Again though, this is my first venture into the world of Jimmy ScreamerClauz so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. So, the movie won me over with its story and concepts but then it lost me with its repetitive and uninteresting animation style — where does that leave me standing on “When Black Birds Fly”? As with most things, I’m indifferent. Unfortunately that hinderance with the animation is enough to keep me away from ever returning to the movie. That’s me though. I think Jimmy’s fanbase is going to absolutely love his latest feature because of his style and the movie’s concept. I’m not sure where it stands in comparison with “Where the Dead Go to Die” but I think anyone who’s excited for “When Black Birds Fly” is going to be very satisfied.
Note: The screenshots used in this review came from the originally trailer and may not represent the final movie.