Film Review: The Burrowers (2008)

SYNOPSIS:

A band of courageous men sets out to find and recover a family of settlers that has mysteriously vanished from their home. Expecting the offenders to be a band of fierce natives, the group prepares for a routine battle. But they soon discover that the real enemy stalks them from below. Written by Anonymous

It is 1879 in the Dakota Territories. A handful of brave pioneers maintain isolated settlements in the badlands beyond civilization. Irish Immigrant Fergus Coffey is near to winning the hand of his beloved Maryanne when she is suddenly taken from him, her family brutally abducted in a nighttime attack on their homestead. Suspicion falls immediately on hostile Indians. Experienced Indian fighters Will Parcher and John Clay form a posse and set out to rescue the kidnapped settlers, taking along a naïve teenager hoping to prove himself a man, an ex-slave looking to find his place in the world and their ranch-hand, Coffey. But as men vanish in the night and horrific evidence accumulates with the dead and dying, the group discovers that their prey is far more terrifying than anything human, and their prospects are far more terrible than death

REVIEW:

Set in the old west frontier times of 1879 in the Dakota Territories, The Burrowers is a combo western horror thriller that brings you the best of both worlds. Under the authority of Henry Victor (Doug Hutchison), a posse sets out in search of the Indians who they assumed attacked a local family by the name of Williams and Stewart. Victims left cold with strange cut marks leave not much to go off so the men head out in packs in search of the missing bodies. There focus and objective is to find, capture and kill the Indians responsible. It is after the teams split off that what they find along the way is very much a different beast altogether. This latest release from Lionsgate has some merit and a bit of old school political ways of thinking. At times its easy to forget that you are even watching a horror film with the focus on the old West.

What we basically have here is not a horror movie with western overtones, but a western with horror overtones. The film is mostly about traveling the plains, fighting Indians and searching for this lost family.The irony here is that even with these vicious Burrowers creatures on the loose, the biggest threats in the film is white man vs Indians and Indians vs white man. The creatures just happen to add to the situations and violence present. A very indian predjudice film it attempts to show us how it was in the day maybe a bit too much.

While I would have liked to of seen more monster action the movie plays that aspect a little light than expected. This doesn’t make for a bad film, though viewers should note the style and what the content entails. The creatures themselves also strangely resemble the creatures from “Dead Birds” another horror Western. The action is displayed much like the film “Pitch Black” in where these creatures sort of lurk in the darkness and pop their heads out now and then. There main object is simply to feed and store food. As explained in the film they have been around for many generations feeding off of buffalo. So in a sense they are the true inhabitants of the land.

As a monster movie it tends to drag in the middle due to too much travel stop, travel scenes. The cowboys just have a hard enough time getting along and not killing each other as they do facing a adversary. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not but the obvious message to me in this film was theres more to fear from ourselves than what lurks in the dark. A second moral would be the question of who is the true monster?

Cinematography was handled with great care getting some really tight shots and giving the viewers a true western sense. Directed and written by J.T. Petty, this film has its share of intense moments. I don’t think it “sings” this is a horror film but it’s certainly marketed that way. The creatures and Fx used on them are pretty cool. Though I kept thinking of an upside down coyote with a leech mouth. As mentioned, alot of the creature play is dark lit, in fields and rushed and cut to show very little. I appreciate that it wasn’t CGI as that would of killed it, though it could of made a bigger impact. We do get some good creature action though in the 3rd act. Though they tend to move a bit too puppet like for believability. The film succeeds mostly in its portrayal of the crooked old West. The monsters are there for the show however they really aren’t the show.

The Burrowers (2008)

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