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The Burrowers (2008)

-Review by Nic Brown-


When most people think of westerns they think of cowboys, gunfights, Indians, and the wide open spaces of the American frontier. But what if there was something else out there, something lurking under the plains, something… hungry. This is the idea behind writer/director J.T. Petty’s western horror film THE BURROWERS.


Set in the frontier of the Dakotas circa 1879, the film starts off with a group of settlers disappearing. A few bodies are found, but most of the women and children in the group have simply vanished. The local sheriff John Clay (Clancy Brown), rancher William Parcher (William Mapother), and the fiancé of one of the missing women, Fergus Coffey (Karl Geary) set out with a Cavalry detachment. They believe that the murders and disappearances were the results of an Indian raid, and they plan to find the missing settlers and exact revenge on the ones that took them. As the group searches for any sign of the missing settlers or the Indian tribe they believe took them, it soon becomes clear that there may be more going on than just a simple raid. They discover that there are creatures, referred to as “Burrowers” by the natives, that tunnel under the ground. These Burrowers are responsible for the deaths and disappearances.


Many films have tried to mix the genres of horror and western and usually the results aren’t very good. This may be because the western setting is used more as a gimmick and often comes across as a joke. THE BURROWERS avoids this pitfall. The story, while not the most original, is a good one. The cast is also an important part of why the film works. Despite the film being a ‘direct to DVD’ movie, the actors involved are for the most part veterans who take their roles seriously.


Another thing that THE BURROWERS does well is use of the locations. Petty uses the vast empty vistas of the grassy plains to create a since of isolation and to build tension. This feeling is compounded once the sun sets and the creatures begin to stir. With the tall grasses and darkness masking their movement above ground, the Burrowers become an almost unseen threat. You, as the audience, know they are there, but not where or when they will strike. The way the creatures kill also adds to the drama. They bury their prey alive to soften it up for the kill, as the rescuers discover when they learn, to their horror, that one victim may not be as dead as they first thought. THE BURROWERS is a well done horror film and western, a combination that doesn’t always work together. So saddle up and check out J.T. Petty’s THE BURROWERS, before they come for you!

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