Dead Birds (2004) starring Henry Thomas, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox, Michael Shannon directed by Alex Turner Movie Review

Dead Birds (2004)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Nicki Aycox in Dead Birds (2004)

Dead Loss

At the time of the American Civil War a group of outlaws dressed as Confederate soldiers rob the Commerce Bank just as some real Confederate soldiers are dropping off money for safe keeping. Having shot their way out of any problems the outlaws lead by William (Henry Thomas) make their way in to an abandoned plantation where they plan to hold up in a mansion till they can then head on down to Mexico. What none of them realise is that the mansion is abandoned because of the supernatural forces which live in their.

What do you do when you come across a movie that seems to split reviewers right down the middle with some praising it whilst others lambaste it? For me I take the risk and watch it anyway but too often end up wishing I hadn't. And that is the case with "Dead Birds" a simple horror movie but one which failed to deliver the frights which I wanted and frequently left me unmoved by what was happening on the screen.

Isaiah Washington in Dead Birds (2004)

Now I said that "Dead Birds" is a simple movie and it is one of those movies where people end up in a place where something untoward of the supernatural variety affects them, picking them off, turning them against each other and so on and so forth. Yes we have the USP of this being a horror movie set during the American Civil War although it only means that technically it is a western as it has no part to play in the story. The thing is that the basic concept of people in a scary building dealing with the supernatural is frequently used and this fails to breathe new life in to it with only a handful of jump moments actually coming off because it fails to create that ominous atmosphere it needs to be effective.

So with "Dead Birds" being simple and all about the effectiveness of the frights more than what goes on in the story I will say this. There is a fright scene which comes reasonably early on, the outlaws have robbed the bank, met some quirky people in the woods and are making their way across a field to the mansion. Something happens as they do so and if that something makes you jump or recoil the chances are the rest of the movie will work, but if it doesn't then you are in for a long 91 minutes.

What this all boils down to is that for me "Dead Birds" didn't work because unfortunately the frights didn't work and with there being little else other than the supposedly scary goings on in the mansion the movie becomes incredibly slow going and hard work.