The Birds (Review)

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds is a 1966 "horror" film that was actually considered pretty scary at the time and is still considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies. And I'm completely dumbfounded as to why!!! To best demonstrate why I dislike this film I'm going to split this review into two categories: the technical side which will discuss cinematography, direction, acting etc. Then, I will discuss the story elements such as characters, plot and screenplay.

On a technical level the film is near perfect (I mean, it IS Alfred Hitchcock). The cinematography is well done, with good angles and shot set ups. The cinematographer seemed to stick pretty heavily to the rule of thirds which I do like as it makes for nice, clean shots.

The lighting is typical 60s technicolor, which actually hurts the film's horror vibe. The film would've benefited from being shot in black and white rather than its actual brightly tinted color scheme.

The sound design and editing, especially with the birds themselves is pretty stellar as they're the only parts of the film that were scary. The screeching and the flapping of the wings create an eerie, apprehensive feel that really put me on edge.

The acting ranges from doable to subpar. The leading lady says all of her lines in a monotone voice, rarely inflecting. It makes it difficult to take some things that she says seriously or believe that she even cares about what's going on. The other actors are functional, but the only really good actor is the woman who plays the mother.

The effects, probably good at the time, are laughably bad, now. Yes, I actually caught myself laughing out loud at some scenes of a movie that is supposed to scare the crap out of me. You can clearly tell that these effects weren't meant to handle a story like this; they do try their best, but you can tell that the birds were spliced into every scene where they're attacking humans or that the humans are running on a sound stage running from footage behind them.

The set up is... pretty dang silly. I don't know who came up with the idea for killer birds, but I hope he never sold another script. The only parts of the film that scared me were the opening credits and the very last shot. I'm not even kidding. That's because you didn't see the birds attacking people. All you hear is wings flapping and the birds crying out. Something unseen is scarier than what is seen.

The characters are pretty bland except for the mother, who has a reverse Norman Bates thing going on. She wants to hold on to her son because she's afraid of being abandoned. That was actually interesting.

The second problem with the story (besides the fact that it's not scary) is that it has cruddy pacing. It takes half the film to get to the plot we were supposed to get with the birds. Until then you're stuck with a confusing, dragged out romance plot that you're supposed to care about, but don't.

Although the film was handeled with delicate hands behind the camera, the end result is quite boring. I don't necessarily blame Hitchcock for this as he didn't lay a hand on the script and it's incredibly hard to make birds scary, but this doesn't change the fact that this is my least favorite Hitchcock movie.


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