Film Review: Birder is a grisly, queer chiller that offers refreshing conversation and genre thrills

“Live Free or Die”

So says the state motto of New Hampshire, something that some people take a little too seriously, especially those within the realms of Nate Dushku‘s Birder, a grisly, queer thriller centred around an enigmatic serial killer and the nudist camp he preys upon.

The “birder” of the title introduces himself as Kristian (Michael Emery), a charming, silver-tongued birdwatcher, who’s personable, but just suspicious enough for us to want to keep him at arm’s length.  The fellow campers at Lotus Cove, however, the clothing-optional colony that he sets himself upon, are all immediately smitten with his general demeanour (and his evident endowment doesn’t hurt either), and it isn’t long before he’s bedding a collective of campers who all very much live by the code of free, gender-less love.

There’s a relaxed attitude to the act of sex and a refreshing lack of shame regarding anyone’s kinks.  Truly, a place where anything goes.  But such freedom has its price too, and Kristian takes advantage of this general casuality to people’s privacy.  There’s no checking in to the area.  There’s no determined period of time that people are required to stay.  If you want to indulge in multiple sex acts with fellow singles, or couples, they’re at your disposal, just as much as people can keep to themselves.

Disposal is what Kristian does best though.  When certain people go missing, there isn’t a lot of panic from the masses, with even the ranger (Delilah DuBois) not expressing much concern – until it’s too late, of course – and it’s that seeming forgetfulness of people’s whereabouts that assists Amnon Lourie‘s script in having fun with certain genre tropes.  It also informs some of the comedic elements of the classic victim pratfalls as they blindly allow Kristian to lead them to their own death, with their only focus being the fact that they’ll have sex with him first.

On the mention of the film’s sexual content, Birder depicts the act with a graphic realism, even if the ensemble cast are all particularly attractive and in shape; it’s clearly a film made for the gays’ gaze.  Somewhat ironically, for a film that has such a grisly nature to it, the violence isn’t as bloody or as lingering as some may expect.  Kristian uses his hands to violent precision, and the sequences are certainly uncomfortable (especially as Kristian himself states during the act of sex how much pressure he’ll apply) but anyone squeamish shouldn’t be too put off by the imagery.

Birder‘s frank openness regarding sexuality and consent is refreshing in the realms of today’s cinema, even for a queer-set film.  It brings about the conversation around community violence in a subtle manner, and, as a genre piece, it provides enough thrills – and one hell of an ending – to satisfy those on a surface level.


Birder is scheduled for release on VOD, Digital and DVD in North America and the United Kingdom from June 25th, 2024.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.