The story begins in a pet shop in San Francisco where a young lawyer, Mitch Brenner, is unsuccessfully trying to buy his younger sister, Cathy, a pair of lovebirds for her 11th birthday. He meets and remembers the wealthy socialite Melanie Daniels, who, apparently, does not recognize him, and he plays a joke on her by treating her as a salesclerk. Attracted to him, she impulsively buys two birds, which she secretly delivers to Mitch’s home in Bodega Bay. On her way back, she is attacked by a seagull, after which she meets Mitch on the mainland pier and he convinces her to go back home with him. The following day, during Cathy’s birthday party, a group of birds attacks her and her friends and, the same evening, finches swarm down the chimney in their hundreds into the Brenner home. There is panic as a chicken farmer, Dan Forsyth, is pecked to death by his own birds which then cause a fire at a gas station and threaten children as they leave school. After a school teacher named Annie Hayworth is also killed by birds, panic mounts in the town and residents flee to San Francisco. Mitch decides to board up all his house’s entrances and wait for the attack. The birds are unable to gain entry after pecking on the doors and tearing at shingles. However, tragically, they manage to make a hole in the roof and attack Melanie who went up to the attic to investigate a noise she had heard. Although Mitch managed to save her, he acknowledged that his own home is no longer safe from the birds and also flees to San Francisco amid a moment of silence from the birds into an uncertain future as the film ends (Mcgilligan 21). This paper will identify the film’s theme and discuss how the director used sub-genre and combined genre elements to project that theme.
The theme, which is predominantly suspense/horror, is strategically brought out by a strange relationship between humanity and nature. The plot may appear to be banal, but the director manages to depict horror by turning garden birds, not birds of prey, against mankind. Bodega Bay, a small town in California is suddenly and without apparent explanation subjected to violent and widespread attacks by birds.