30 August 2009 | Coventry
Birds don't just go around attacking people, do they?
I still have quite a few of Hitchcock classics to see, but I can already rest assured that "The Birds" will remain my all-time favorite effort by this legendary director. Being primarily a horror movie junkie, I consider this milestone to be the pioneer in the delicious 'nature revolts' sub genre. For reasons that remain unexplained throughout the entire movie, birds spontaneously launch virulent and aggressive attacks against the inhabitants of Bodega Bay; a little seaside town 90 miles away from San Francisco. Still several years after the release of this film, clever and ingenious independent horror film directors borrowed this formula and used it as an excuse to manifest practically every species of the animal kingdom as vicious killing machines, usually because of the ongoing pollution by mankind. But "The Birds" remains the original classic even though the story develops itself very slowly and the script refuses to give any type of explanation whatsoever. For nearly a full hour, the film simply focuses on the bizarre love-story between the spoiled daughter of newspaper owner and an arrogant crime attorney. She drives out to his parental house in Bodega Bay, where he spends all of his weekends, to play out a practical joke. "The Birds" then subsequently unfolds itself as a strangely compelling romance between the two aforementioned characters, but also the embittered local school teacher and the attorney's frigid mother. The interactions between these four unusual characters are often downright eerie and there isn't even a bird in sight at that moment! Meanwhile, however, the menace of our 'feathered friends' is continuously present and noticeable. The attacks gradually increase in number and intensity, like the birds are putting up some sort of strategy even though there's no obvious motive. After the virulent attack during a child's birthday party, the thriller definitely shifts into high gear, with many sequences that are righteously considered as classic by now (the schoolyard, the phone booth, the exploding gas station). Hitch's nickname 'The Master of Suspense' is justified through many individual moments here in this film, like when the entire community seeks shelter inside the café and accuses the girl of bringing this mayhem upon them. The film's brilliant anti-climax, with thousands of birds just sitting and suspiciously waiting outside the Brenner house is legendary and imitated copious of times. "The Birds" is a perplexing Hitchcock landmark, with a couple of surprisingly shocking make-up effects and a truly ominous atmosphere that still manages to send cold shivers of fright down your spine.