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Dead Birds (2004 film)

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Title: Dead Birds (2004 film)  
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Subject: Muse Watson, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, Henry Thomas, Leslie Keel, Patrick Fugit, Mark Boone Junior, Nicki Aycox, Weird West, Dead Birds, Isaiah Washington
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Dead Birds (2004 film)

Dead Birds
DVD cover
Directed by Alex Turner
Produced by David Hillary
Timothy Peternel
Ash Shah
Written by Simon Barrett
Starring Henry Thomas
Nicki Aycox
Isaiah Washington
Patrick Fugit
Michael Shannon
Music by Peter Lopez
Distributed by Sony Pictures
Release dates
  • September 13, 2004 (2004-09-13) (Toronto)
  • March 15, 2005 (2005-03-15) (United States)
Running time 91 minutes
Language English

Dead Birds is a 2004 American horror film directed by Alex Turner.[1]


William (Henry Thomas) is the leader of a group of runaway Confederate soldiers which includes Sam, Clyde, and Joseph during the American Civil War. With the help of Todd (Isaiah Washington), an escaped slave, and Annabelle, an Army nurse (Nicki Aycox), they stage a robbery at a bank holding a cache of rebel gold.

Needing a place to rest for the night, the criminals set up camp in a mansion overlooking an abandoned plantation. It soon becomes obvious that the old house is not as empty as they thought. The former owner was a gentleman farmer with a wife and two children. When his wife died, he attempted to bring her back by sacrificing his children, slaves, and any other living creature, hoping that black magic aqcuired from his slaves' native rites would return her to life. The spirits of his victims remain in the house, attacking all who dare enter.[2]

A storm is coming so Joseph leads the horse into the barn. When he goes to the well to get some water, he gets pulled down by an entity. The others try to find him but fail to do so.

The others also experience strange occurrences. While resting in the bedroom, Sam gets haunted by the ghost of the farmer who tells him about what happened while Todd witnesses the ritual itself being done to a black slave in the basement. Clyde witnesses what appears to be Joseph stumbling about outside and goes to investigate. William and Annabelle, who were guarding the gold at the time wake up to find it gone thinking Clyde took off with it. While William tries to track down Clyde, Sam who gets possessed by the farmer shows Annabelle what happened. The ritual ended up turning the farmer's family into demonic creatures similar to a strange creature they killed when they first arrived in the area. Sam dies afterwards and Annabelle tries to convince William to leave. Todd also reunites with the pair also determined to leave.

When they reach the barn, they find the horses mutilated. Todd begins to hear and see things the two can't and he tries to leave the place. William refuses to leave without the gold and is accompanied by Annabelle back into the house to find Sam's body missing. In the field, a possessed Sam attacks Todd, throws him into the air and Todd is seemingly killed, after vanishing in mid-air. When William and Annabelle go to the field as well, they find Clyde tied up like a scarecrow with his eyes and mouth sewn. The pair try to run away but gets separated. William accidentally shoots Annabelle killing her instantly.

The next morning, William finally leaves Annabelle's corpse behind. He gets attacked by their dog and he tries to run away. The audience is led to believe that he is being pursued by a demonic creature. When William finally clears the field, he is shot by the authorities. It is then revealed that William has also transformed into the demonic creature and the authorities mistook him for some deformed animal. Two of the soldiers discover gold coins which William dropped and they go to investigate the house. As they go through the field, they discover Annabelle's corpse which apparently transformed into that of the creatures as well.



Dead Birds was the first feature film from director Alex Turner.[3]


The film had a limited re-release on February 5, 2010, at the NuArt Theatre in Los Angeles.[4]

Critical reception

Jon Condit of Dread Central said of the film, "And wouldn't ya know it, this modestly budgeted period piece from newcomer Alex Turner dishes on the history (we're in the late-1800s for this one) as well as some heavy gore and otherworldly Lovecraftian heebie-jeebies for a mostly satisfying feast. That is, if you can withstand its unhurried storytelling pace these tales of America's yesteryear can't seem to shake (it ain't no Glory, I'll say that much)."[5]

Daniel W. Kelly of DVD Talk said, "Of course, the film follows some conventions of horror. There's a cornfield. There are Demons and scary creatures. A group of people in a desolate location get offed one by one. But that's what we love about horror. The only other real issue is that while the ending is good conceptually, it could be considered sort of anti-climatic visually. Still, this film is worth the goose bumps it delivers throughout due to stylish camera work and a visually frightening presentation."[6]

Cam Lindsay of Exclaim! commented, "The Wild Wild West isn't the norm for a horror film setting, but first-time director Turner and writer Simon Barrett have come up with a nice horror/western hybrid to make their little flick an extraordinary one."[7]


  1. ^ New York Times. "Dead Birds". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  2. ^ IMDb
  3. ^ Bloody Disgusting. "Dead Birds". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  4. ^ Bloody Disgusting. "Dead Birds". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  5. ^ Jon Condit. "Dead Birds". Dread Central. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  6. ^ Daniel W. Kelly. "Dead Birds". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  7. ^ Cam Lindsay. "Dead Birds". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 

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