As with many Hitchcock films, this one starts out innocently and pretty lighthearted. We meet the main characters, a couple of wealthy attractive people flirting in a pet store. In a fit of stalkerishness that would make the guy watching you through your window with binoculars blush, the heroine follows the hunky hero to a remote coastal town and shacks up there for the weekend. Inexplicably, the gulls, crows and other local birds start acting aggressively and attacking people. The couple holds up along with the man’s family in their house to try to survive while the townspeople are being pecked to death left and right.
There are some great scenes of bird attacks. Some of them are almost comical by today’s special effects standards, but Hitchcock definitely set the bar here. Some fancy camera work and a good use of props and a combination of real and fake birds really gives you the impression that these things are swarming out of control.
A couple of key scenes stand out that really make this movie for me. The bird attacks come in waves, and when they’re not attacking, the birds are just sitting everywhere and watching. Characters slowly walk past flocks of huge crows just sitting on fences, power lines, rooftops- everywhere. The suspense grows with each step because you know the birds could spring up and attack at any moment. It’s hard to say which is scarier- the actual attack scenes or the suspense and build up of the quite scenes.
- Is it scary: 8. Truly gripping suspense and thrills. You don’t know why the birds are acting like this. Maybe it could happen for real.
- Originality: 10. Everyone copied off of Hitchcock. He basically revamped the whole genre.
- Blood: 6*. Tame by today’s standards but if you adjust for inflation, I’d say it was fairly bloody.
- Believability: 8. I didn’t really find myself thinking “she wouldn’t have done that.” There were some character choices that were distracting though. The grown man has a sister who’s a young child.
- Setting/Cinematography: 9. The setting is not inherently scary other than the fact that it adds to a feeling of isolation and helplessness. But the camera work and the way scenes are shot have definitely added to the effect.