This is a classic, probably the defining movie of the "swarm" genre. Despite this, this is not the movie I was quite expecting to see. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that had seen the ending a few times, then I am not sure if I would have stood around for the beginning. Though swarms of birds and strange activities helped to set the mood, far too much of the development period of the movie is based around a the pasteboard acting of Tippi Hedren as she plays a character not so much complex as obscure and Rod Taylor as he plays the not-quite-average guy who wants to be goofily lovable but somehow comes off as a little creepy.
Not to mention the nearly psycho side story of Suzanne Pleshette's school teacher with a slow burning flame.
The cinematography ranges from excellent and perflectly mood setting and jarringly fake, though luckily the sets get better as time goes on. For the former, I offer the scene of Melanie Daniels (Hedren's character) take the boat across the lake for a suprise visit. For the latter, I offer a good number of scenes with birds, especially the one with the lovebirds in the "high speed" car.
The great conceit of this movie is the fight between the horror of the plot (a near omnipresent animal, a biological being taken for granted, suddenly coming out as an attacker) and the near lunacy of said plot. Though larger birds can be deady, the movie is more concerend with the finch and the gull.
Luckily for the audience, the acting and the characters become more well rounded and the plot line actualy does manage to pull you in, but it takes a good forty-five mintues before I became really concerned about anything. This is an issue that plagued a lot of horror movies that went more "suckering" in the audience through posters, trailers and word of mouth and then forcing one to go throughd delayed gratification so that when the big event - such as birds attack kids a party - occurs, it is a welcome, near happy, moment of fulfillment.
Hitchcock does two things right here. He paces the actions of the birds in such a way that it builds up the effectiveness of the scenes where they attack. The birds are not constantly bloodthirsty. It is the "planning" of the attacks that creeps the audience out. These are not birds in the way that we think of birds.
Hitchcock also manages to keep the gore to an extremely effective level. This, combined with people's general confusion and fear, helps to give the later portions of the film a good vibrancy.
Unfortunately, due to lack of effects, the movie also relies on quick and fuzzy cuts to help keep one from focusing on the fake birds. This leads to diminished visual impact of the attacks themselves, forcing the movie to rely on the mood it sets in the quieter scenes.
And well, its birds. Keep your head covered and don't panic and you'll be largely ok, you know? Ah well, its a decent movie.
My score: 63.
For those in the care, here is some IMDB.com love for the movie.
This review written by W. Doug Bolden
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