SXSW Short Film Review: The Thing That Ate The Birds holds up a mirror to one’s own conscience in a more fantastical manner

Written and directed by Sophie Mair and Dan Gitsham, The Thing That Ate The Birds is an atmospheric short that teases a darker universe we can only hope could be expanded on.

Abel (Eoin Slattery) and Grace (Rebecca Palmer) are on the verge of separation, but the tragic circumstances surrounding their farmland have pushed their woes aside as they try to uncover what is killing off the local bird life; the two finding mutilated corpses scattered on their property.

Playing investigator brings Abel closer to the menacing reality of the situation at hand, resulting in brutal consequences within his home life that’ll forever alter his existence.

Deliberately vague, alarmingly restrained, and appropriately violent, The Thing That Ate The Birds is a subtle reflection on the growing anxiety of the world and the self-destruction that feels inevitable.

In such a small space of time it’s commendable how much Mair and Gitsham manage to express, suggesting a future in the horror genre – or at least an expansion of this particular story – will serve them well.  Encouraged by the horror brand Alter, a leader in championing the horror short, The Thing That Ate The Birds is a tense, dreamlike nightmare that holds up a mirror to one’s own conscience in a more fantastical manner.


The Thing That Ate The Birds is screening as part of this year’s SXSW Film Festival, which is being presented virtually between March 16th and 20th, 2021.  For more information head to the official SXSW website.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.