Western and horror; count me in! This takes place during the American Civil War, somewhere between 1861 and 1865, with a bunch of outlaws you wouldn’t trust with your children, except maybe Henry Thomas’ character who couldn’t hurt a fly. Michael Shannon is here, too. They either underplay or let their facial air do the acting, and that’s never a problem.
Even though we understand our protagonists are bad guys, we side with them after the first of several paranormal encounters. Telling you the nature of the antagonists would spoil too much. Let’s just say they’re massively composited, and therefore not scary enough. If you knew too much, the slow-burning plot wouldn’t matter. All the hard stuff happens in the third act.
Since electricity isn’t a thing, yet, and because most of the story takes place at night, most scenes are barely lit. It’s not a problem if you watch the film in the right conditions. Dead Birds is the kind of picture you invest yourself into blindly, simply because it’s like nothing else out there. It’s an unusual mix of subgenres, and the production value is significant.