To round out October’s scary movie theme I went with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic The Birds. Every filmmaker should study Hitchcock’s body of work as it’s varied with each film challenging the viewer in different ways. One thing you have to give to the man is that he knew how to create suspense, even when using a bunch of sea gulls.
Speaking of gulls, The Birds centers around a socialite and her new crush who actually start things off with a round of what would be considered stalking in these modern times of ours. She meets the guy once and ends up tracing him back to his family house going so far as to break into his house to leave a gift. She questions people around town about him and everyone is all too glad to offer information. It was a very different world then. It says a lot about where we are now when you look at how things were then.
The Birds isn’t so much a social commentary as my ranting just now, it’s more of beginning of a love story horribly interrupted by an attack of birds in the area, starting with a single dive-bomb from a gull into Tippi Hedron’s head. From there, the attacks build up as more and more birds begin to arrive to what seems like a bird war against humanity. Attacks escalate and the film soon becomes a study in survival.
Somehow, this movie seemed a lot scarier when I was younger but it still manages to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up now and then. There’s a simple approach to Hitchcock’s tension that’s layered in between the visuals of birds pecking and the ear-piercing sound track that puts you on edge. It’s simple but it works. It even manages to be tense when the main characters are simply walking near the birds, like somehow they may just all come at you at once. Unnerving.
There’s no ending here in certain ways and I really didn’t care, it’s one of those films that you’re just happy you made it through the attack. While tame in terms of gore by today’s standards (hell, TV is worse), it’s still a classic for a reason and worth your time to check out.
reviewed by Sean McKnight