Birdeater 2023

Directed by Jim Weir, Jack Clark Fresh

This Australian debut marks the arrival of incredibly promising new directing talents as a bride-to-be tags along to her fiancé’s stag do from hell. An audacious, rollicking deep dive into power, control and the rituals of toxic masculinity.

Aug 11

Hollywood Avondale

115 minutes Colour / DCP
Domestic abuse themes, violence, offensive language, sexual references & nudity



Stephanie Troost, Ulysses Oliver


Jack Clark


Roger Stonehouse


Ben Anderson

Production Designer

Ella Deane

Costume Designer

Petria Hogarth


Andreas Dominguez


Mackenzie Fearnley, Shabana Azeez, Ben Hunter, Jack Bannister, Clementine Anderson, Alfie Gledhill


Sydney, Melbourne 2023; SXSW 2024


Audience Award (Australian Narrative Feature), Sydney Film Festival 2023


From the off, something doesn’t feel quite right in Australian directors Jack Clark and Jim Weir’s Birdeater. We’re presented with a romantic montage, of sorts, between strapping Aussie lad Louie (Mackenzie Fearnley) and his fiancé, British expat Irene (Shabana Azeez). And yet, between sweet moments of tenderness are moments of disquiet, even alarm, glancing moments that are presented and moved on from before their wrongness can fully register. This is the modus operandi of Birdeater, a film that isn’t strictly a horror in a classic sense, and yet moves with the aggressiveness and deep-seated foreboding of one of the great psychological horror-thrillers such as Don’t Look Now or Australia’s own Wake in Fright. The tension begins a slow ratcheting to fever pitch as Louie convinces Irene to join him and his groomsmen for a stag do in an isolated cabin in the Outback. Initially, the idea is presented as a progressive twist on the traditional gender norms intrinsic to wedding celebrations, but the deadly cocktail of inebriation, sweltering heat, misguided masculine ritual and buried secrets soon reveal the nature of the pair’s relationship to be something entirely more sinister. 

Uniting a broad ensemble of young Australian actors, the directors flex a confidence and handle of cinematic language that is particularly striking, this being their feature debut. Employing visual, sound and editing techniques associated with horror cinema, seemingly benign moments are given new layers of portent and terror. The directors are ably supported by their cast, each player serving a different role in the moral morass, including loose cannon Dylan (Ben Hunter), devout Christian Charlie (Jack Bannister) and voice of reason Grace (Clementine Anderson), Charlie’s fiancé. Birdeater’s erratic, frenetic style imbues the picture with lashings of dark comedy and fearsome setpieces of drunken chaos, but it is the ominous depiction of toxic masculinity that sets the film apart. Though the subject has become a theme du jour in modern horror cinema, few films are as unflinching as this one. It’s a film whose construction and ideas linger in the mind long after the credits run, and we’re finally given a chance to exhale. — Tom Augustine