Starring Michael Shannon and Mark Boone Junior, Dead Birds feels like a small project oozing with cool features. Features that you cannot see in those big productions. Right off the bat, it’s ruthless and visceral, using the intense beginning to set up the story. Solidly building up suspension this movie just gets under your skin real quick. And once it’s there, it festers. The atmosphere is creepy and unnerving with a lot of mystery surrounding the story. When you combine this with a quite effective jump scares, you get a nice little movie that should keep you from reaching for your phone.
Here’s a fun fact, one of the prevailing myths about the wild west is that there were a lot of bank robberies. However, the fact is that this could not be farther from the truth. Especially compared to today’s standards. Check out this interesting article on that subject: The Non-Existent Frontier Bank Robbery. Dead Birds doesn’t come close to masterpieces of western horror like Bone Tomahawk and Ravenous. It’s more similar to The Burrowers but its distinct setting and story make it worth watching.
It is the time of the Civil War in America and times are rough. A group of Confederate deserts, led by a very charismatic man by the name of William, decides to rob a bank. After managing to get away with the gold, they hole up for the night in an abandoned house. They plan to do what any other self-respecting criminal would do and try to make it to the promised land of Mexico. However, they first have to make it through the night.
With very colorful and authentic characters and a good story, you can do wonders. Not to mention that phenomenal music that turns somewhat eerie and a little creepy scenes into nail-biting implosions. The special effects are quite good for this type of production. They cleverly didn’t overuse them, punctuating a couple of nasty setups. And I don’t need to tell you how much I love movies taking place in a single location. Just as much I can’t help talking about the glorious Feast trilogy featuring a much more entertaining and gory storyline.
However there are a couple of flaws that must be addressed, and the first one is the deviation from the independent style. This means that you can actually skip the awkward sex scenes and other fillers for characters or just accent them in other scenes. And lastly, I felt a bit conflicted about the entire story. Mostly because the protagonists are antagonized and then thrown into a bad situation. This gives little foothold for the average viewer, although the rewards await them towards the end. So, I hope you’ll be one of those who stick with it.
Director: Alex Turner
Writer: Simon Barrett
Cast: Michael Shannon, Muse Watson, Mark Boone Junior, Isaiah Washington, Melanie Abramoff, Patrick Fugit, Nicki Aycox
Fun Facts: Mark Boone Junior improvised the moment when his character Joseph bites down on a stolen gold coin and proclaims that it’s real.