I grew up hearing about two Hitchcock films: ‘Psycho’ and ‘The Birds’. Where the former lives up to the thrill of a well-turned plot, the latter is more of a bloody mess. In most scary movies there’s a human-like body out to get people. ‘The Birds’ takes someone’s phobia of birds and preserves it for generations of viewers to adopt into their consciousness: birds don’t peck people’s eyes out, but they could. This is a terrifying improbability, but a great deal of care went into creating the sounds and sights of murderous hoards of tiny dinosaur creatures, which has been giving people nightmares for decades.
Hitchcock developed a story fueled not by character, but by emotionality. We don’t ever learn too much about the characters, but we know exactly how they feel and the helplessness with which they do the generally foolish things they do. ‘The Birds’ is a sensory experience more than any other Hitchcock film. It may be seen as simply a thriller, bloody and for screams, but the art house quality is fascinating from the angle of viewers who suspend their disbelief long enough to watch that car drive away into the stormy sky at the end.
…And if you know there are killer birds about and go looking for them, you might deserve to be pecked to death. Just saying.