South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival – The Thing That Ate The Birds? Yes, of course I’m enticed. Please, tell me. What is the Thing that ate the birds?
Within seconds the tone is set with a starkly elegant title screen and violent violins ramping up to a fever pitch*. A grin spreads wide across my face and I lean in towards the TV, rubbing my hands together diabolically.
Less than five minutes in and I said out loud, to an empty room, “What the fuck!?” and also “Oh god!” We are off to a promising start.
A tension filled, strained marriage set against the backdrop of the expansive North Yorkshire Moors . A groundskeeper and his assistant stumble across… you guessed it another dead bird. It seems it’s been a problem in these parts and when the duo encounters a very likely suspect, (which will inevitably haunt my dreams for weeks to come), head groundskeeper Abel takes action. He’s a real act-first-think-later kind of guy, now is it all well and done or might this come back to bite him in the ass down the line?
There are lots of nice practical fx here; as a whole it is a well done, sinister piece. Fraught with tension through and through, it will likely have you wound as tightly as those screaming strings for the duration of its fourteen minute runtime. Writer/Director team Sophie Mair and Dan Gitsham do indeed provide you with an answer to the query- what the hell ate the birds!? There might be more to fear on the moors than what the phrase typically tends to bring to mind.
The Thing That Ate The Birds premiered as part of the Midnight Shorts collection at SXSW Online 2021
*I don’t in fact know they were violins, but definitely string instruments and I liked the alliteration.