STARRING: Sean Patrick Flanery, Rod Taylor, Stephen McHattie, Kristin Booth, Megan Park, Ashley Newbrough

2007, 89 Minutes, Directed by:
Sheldon Wilson

In this made-for-the-Sci-Fi Channel movie rip-off of Hitchcock’s The Birds, a small rural American town is menaced by a flock of mad cow disease-infected, human-flesh eating ravens.

Yup, you read right about the “mad cow disease infected” bit. Not only did eating the rotting carcasses of bovines that died of mad cow disease turn the ravens into crazed creatures that attack and kill humans, but it also made them super intelligent. In the movie’s most ludicrous and over-the-top scene, the flock of ravens are seen hurling small rocks against the windows of a yellow school bus so as to get to the scholars cowering inside in fear. Even more ridiculous is the fake facial hair sported by actors playing Mennonites (a real life cult similar to the Amish) you just want to reach into the TV screen to pull at the fake beards and watch them snap back!

This Canadian production is supposed to be set in some small American town, but was instead filmed somewhere in Ontario. The desolate and sleet-driven settings and landscape are a plus though and pretty effective. Also a plus is the special effects: a mixture of live and CGI ravens which looks pretty realistic. Less effective though is the overcooked horror music score, consisting mostly of the Cello dudes really going into maximum overdrive, which instead of underscoring the action merely draws attention to itself.

Even though the movie is painfully aware of its origins as a blatant rip-off of a well-known and beloved Hitchcock movie (why else would it star Rod Taylor who appeared in The Birds in a small cameo as the town doctor then?), there is no tongue-in-cheek humor even when it outright steals scenes from the Hitchcock original.

Let’s face up to it though: despite its unoriginality, Kaw could have been a pretty decent horror rental. That is, if they had fired the composer and let another pair of screenwriters get a shot at the screenplay and throw out all that malarkey about Mennonites and their Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy-infected cattle serving as an excuse as to why the ravens are somehow working together to terrorize the small town. Even “genetically modified” (that old sci-fi standby) cattle would have served as a better excuse . . .



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