One of the most famous & beloved Alfred Hitchcock horrors/thrillers, The Birds is a 1963 movie loosely based on the short story by Daphne du Maurier.
The plot surrounds Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), a confident prankster who meets lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a bird shop. Interested in him she decides to pretend to be the shopkeeper however the tables are turned, much to her annoyance, as he recognises her from a court appearance.
His demeanour & impish behaviour is attractive to her so she tracks him down & heads off to Bodega Bay to deliver the birds he wanted. On the way though she is attacked by a seagull, something that she shakes off.
Once she meets up with Mitch she tries to play it cool but eventually agrees to have dinner with him & his family. She ends up staying with local school teacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) who dated Mitch in the past. She still has feelings for the man but is kind & friendly to Melanie.
Unfortunately for the young lovebirds, things are about to take a very dark & violent turn.
Up to this point you wouldn’t think you were watching a horror movie. The focus is on the blooming love story of Melanie & Mitch & the town of Bodega Bay. It’s enriching & interesting especially when the occasional odd bit of bird behaviour occurs too.
The amount of time spent with these characters, even minor ones, makes the eventual full on bird attack that much more impactful. This is character development at its best. A likeable bunch of leads all played to perfection by great actors & actresses.
It’s all about the build & the suspense as the bird’s behaviour becomes even more erratic leading to them attacking every human in sight. Hitchcock turns these birds into some of the most terrifying villains in horror history.
The realisation that we take our feathered friends for granted & that with so many out there, if they finally had enough of our crap, we wouldn’t stand a chance. The final scene of the few survivors slowly picking their way through a landscape covered with birds waiting ominously will stay with you for a long time afterwards.
Rightfully considered a classic, if you’ve never seen The Birds & think it will be showing its age, you’re wrong. It is still a master-class in thrilling horror.