For such a good website, IMDB sure has a pretty stupid readership. Somehow I once again find myself prowling the dangerous neighborhood that is their message boards, this time for the 2008 little historical horror, The Burrowers. “Tremors meets Jeepers Creepers,” cries one probably-thinks-he’s-very-
My point, aside from the fact that people who frequent the IMDB message boards are generally not very bright, is that The Burrowers is a refreshingly well-made and even, dare I say it, original little film that’s mean, gooey, and surprisingly witty. So pah.
In the 1870s, a young Irishman named Fergis woos a pioneer lass (House of the Devil’ s Jocelin Donahue in a quick cameo) until her and her entire family disappear one day in the Dakotas. Fergis is soon met by a too-cool Clancy Brown, Lost’s William Mapother and his prospective stepson, and a suspicious military outfit led by another Lost veteran (Doug Hutchison, with a kicking handlebar mustache) to follow the probably doomed trail, assuming the settlers have been abducted by Indians.
Following my review of Dead Birds and callout for more historical horror, several readers and friends recommended this 2008 Western creature feature, directed by J.T. Petty. To those who did, I say...thank you.
The Burrowers isn’t the best straight-to-DVD film I’ve seen this year, but it’s a genuinely rewarding 90 minutes of effective atmosphere, likable acting, and a far smarter-than-it-had-to-be script. It even has some laugh-out-loud lines, particularly in its early scenes as the comfortable cast starts their trail. It can't be easy to write dialogue set one hundred and thirty years ago, but Petty produces some natural and entertaining conversations for his game cast.
More importantly, the film is scary in a unique way you don't really see too much of nowadays. In no way does The Burrowers change the nature of horror cinema, but it actually does some fairly interesting things with its story, killing off characters you expect to go further, avoiding cheap scares where plenty could be used, and teasing us with the nasty subterranian carnivores until near the film's end. Following a rather neat climax, the final moments are incredibly unsettling in a way you just don't find in most horror.
Headed by a cast of character “that guy” actors, The Burrowers is extraordinarily played. All the men are believable as nineteenth century working fellas, but they also have great chemistry and come off as a likable, if flawed (and doomed) crew
For CGI creations in a low budget film, the titular monsters are surprisingly neat little creatures, with phallic wormy bodies, muscular cricket legs, and ugly little faces primarily marked by the kind of teeth you're really not looking forward to being devoured by
While I don’t usually enjoy a dreary ending for dreariness’ sake, (and The Burrowers finish is a downer), the final images and lines are hauntingly appropriate. We've seen that this is a cruel world run by narrow minded men. A fairy tale finish would've been ridiculous.
THUS ENDETH SPOILERS
I appreciate a film set before electricity not going for the easy fake lighting during night scenes, but at the same time...I really like to see things in movies
Never mess with another man’s Indian
When in doubt, assume you’re surrounded by bear traps. Just trust me on that one
The ability to fall asleep while riding a horse is a power that must be cultivated, though unfortunately, bares no correlation with good aim when shooting a pistol
Vertically challenged men in positions of power will usually do nothing but cause trouble
A highly recommended little Instant Watch, The Burrowers has an intriguing pace that may be a little slow for some viewers. Though it took a fair amount of time to get to the (surprisingly not that brutal) monster mashing, the engaging style of the acting and rare historical setting will still make it a winner for most genre fans. Watching it so closely after Survival of the Dead even makes me think that my problem with Romero's film had nothing to do with my lack of love for Westerns. This is a solid, scary, and entertaining film that easily warrants a bargain priced buy.