The Dakota Territories. 1879. 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 sud... more »denly 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 naďve teenager hoping to prove himself a man, an ex-slave looking for his place, 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.« less
Carissa N. (shortstack) from WOODLAND HLS, CA Reviewed on 12/29/2013...
This was a great concept!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
John H. (johnniemidnite) from LYNNWOOD, WA Reviewed on 2/24/2010...
Disappointing. Saw the HD version on FEARNET and the picture was so dark very little action was seen as the monsters come out at night. I kept watching it thinking it was going to get good. It didn't.
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Yes!! Another entry in the Period Horror sub-genre!
Elaine | The Deep, Dark, Gothic South, USA | 04/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had heard some buzz about writer/director J.T. Petty's latest film, "The Burrowers", but had no idea what to expect when I received my copy from NetFlix. I was amazed by this film - not since Alex Turner's brilliant period horror, "Dead Birds" (2005), has a movie really given me hope that the horror genre has not been taken over by CGI garbage, PG-13 crap and pretty 20-something "actors". And I was surprised to discover that "The Burrowers" has ties to "Dead Birds" - the creatures in both films were designed by Robert Hall and his company, Almost Human. No wonder I was so unsettled.
Set in the Dakota Territories in 1879, the plot revolves around the mysterious murders and disappearances of settlers in the area. Knowing Indians MUST be the culprits, an Army outfit, led by Henry Victor ("Lost" and "X Files" actor, Doug Hutchison) as well as some Indian trackers led by William Parcher ("Lost" and "The Grudge" actor, William Mapother) and John Clay (Clancy Brown, another "Lost" alum!) head out in search of the kidnapped settlers. After disagreements break out between the Army and the Indian hunters, the two groups go their separate ways but Mapother and company are soon to discover that what they are hunting is FAR more dangerous and horrific than they ever imagined! Along with the Indian hunters are Irish immigrant Fergus Coffey (Karl Geary), whose sweetheart, Maryanne is among the missing, an ex-slave, "Walnut" Callaghan (Sean Patrick Thomas) and a young man, Dobie (Galen Hutchison), whose mother is being courted by Parcher.
The film unfolds slowly, letting the sense of dread increase as characters are picked off, one by one. And when all hell finally breaks loose, the wait is definitely worth it. Petty ("S&Man (2005), "Soft for Digging" (2001)) knows what scares us and he also knows that most horror fans want something new. "The Burrowers" might best be described as "The Searchers" by way of Neil Marshall's "The Descent". Petty's cinematographer, Phil Parmet, who DP'd Rob Zombie's "Halloween" (2007) and "The Devil's Rejects" (2005) gets that "antique" look just right. And Robert Hall's creatures...I will leave it at that. There are images from this film that will stay with me for quite a while.
I know that many horror fans won't have the patience for a film like "The Burrowers" (much like "Dead Birds"). But for those fans famished for something truly unique and horrifying, "The Burrowers" is for you. Bravo, J.T. and company!! This one is a keeper!"
Compelling, unusual horror flick
General Zombie | the West | 04/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Burrowers" reminds why the serious horror fan must continue to scour the endless flood of direct-to-DVD releases. These films are generally lousy, usually quick, craft-free cash-ins, but sometimes a quality film slips through. I suspect the well-crafted "The Burrowers" slipped through because it is completely unmarketable. It's a rare horror-western that will leave many conventional horror fans wondering when the monsters will show, while those looking for a western may find the horror movie climax off putting. It's not merely a horror-western, but a moody art western and a slow-burn, atmospheric horror film, both of which will turn off much of their fan base. As such, "The Burrowers" is hardly a flawless film, but it's surprisingly novel and ambitious, particularly for a non-theatrical release. (Though, with a budget of 7 million, it's actually quite a bit more pricy than many theatrical horror movies.) Thrills may be in short supply, but it's a gorgeous, strange film, that steadily generates sense of dread.
Like many of your modern, artier westerns, "The Burrowers" has a thin story. In the Dakota territories a large family is attacked, with some members killed and others dragged from their home alive by an unseen, monstrous assailant. The locals assume this was an Indian raid and send out a search/retribution party to retrieve any survivors, though this party slowly discovers that the conventional narrative does not apply.
"The Burrowers" is a gorgeous film, and the sepia-tinged photography takes full advantage of the New Mexico landscape. Petty also displays a great range visually, sometimes abandoning the slow, steady style for a bit of fast paced action or a conventional horror scene. That said, the film is also quite dialogue and character heavy, with the main weakness that, though well acted, the figures are somewhat clichéd and not overly compelling. Irishman Coffey (Karl Geary) is the central everyman character, whose fiancée-to-be disappeared in the attack, while Henry Victor (Doug Hutchison) is the brutal, bigoted military man and Will Parcher (Will Mapother) is the gruff, no-nonsense sort who has difficulty accepting the surreal nature of the task. (There are a few other stock characters, like the sympathetic black cook and the young, naïve kid who needs to prove himself.) The characters are ultimately quite likable, when they're supposed to be, but they're never quite compelling. Related to this, the film is sometimes irritatingly PC, rehashing the same old tropes about abusing the Native Americans, killing the buffalo, racism etc. For once this material is genuinely related to the story, but it's still heavy-handed and repetitive. These elements are secondary to the mood and horror, but had they been handled more adroitly they could've lifted it to another level.
The strongest aspect of "The Burrowers" is the slow build, where the trappings of conventional European civilization are steadily stripped away as the party moves further from home, and the natural finally bridges the supernatural. Director/Writer J.T. Petty is careful not to give away much initially, building detail after detail: the mysterious wounds; the lack of the blood; the bizarre damage to nearby foliage and soil; the vague Indian tales of the burrowers; the paralyzed, buried-alive victims. Were a viewer to miss the first 5 minutes of the film, it might take 45+ minutes to realize that there was anything legitimately supernatural occurring. This is what I like best in horror, the almost imperceptible slip from the real to the unreal, and "The Burrowers" executes this transition with special care. When we finally meet the creatures they are not particularly stunning, in the final analysis, but this is an inevitable disappointment. If nothing else, the creatures are better than most and surprisingly good looking for such a low-budget film.
The conclusion will, no doubt, split audiences, as many will likely find it disappointingly conventional. The climax is merely solid but the film has a terrific epilogue that redeems it, and that brings the film back to its roots. "The Burrowers" ends not in horror, but in a bleak, hopeless melancholy driven home by the final shot. It may not be what most horror or western fans are looking for, but it has an impact. Check it out.
Grade: B+ "
The Searchers meets The Descent meets Tremors.
Paulo Leite | Lisbon, Portugal | 05/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great film who did not get a theatrical release... sadly because the cinematography is gorgeous and the whole project is many times superior to other horror films who actually get a wide release.
The director here did an excellent job recreating a western scenario where a group of men go on a journey in search of a family of settlers who were (they think) abducted by indians - when in fact, the abductors are a breed of underground creatures who feed on the humans they keep paralyzed under the earth.
The characters are great, the actors are great, cinematography is top-notch, music is great... everything is perfect.
...but the only thing that prevents me from giving this film five stars was a strange taste of "I've seen all this before in other films". Don't get me wrong, because I DO think this film is a true labor of love superior to most of the junk we see today. But somehow the utilization of elements we already saw in films like The Descent (the group of monstrous flesh-eating humanoids...) or Tremors (...who live under the earth) left me a bit unimpressed and disappointed. The idea that came into my head was that this film was a great combination of formulas I've seen before BUT under a (unusual) western scenario.
Maybe that's why it did not get a theatrical release.
STILL... this is a gorgeous horror film that even being a mixture of other films we all have seen before, still manages to keep you interested all the way until the end - thanks to a master director who clearly has great taste.
So if you are looking for a superior work of horror, give this DVD a try."
Real Western, Real Horror
M. Varden | Fairfax VA USA | 04/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can honestly say I have not seen another film quite like this. It is a real horror western, and blends the two genres very well. The costumes, dialogue, setting, and casting all come together to create a very genuine Old West tableau... which is then invaded by a genuinely creepy, shockingly weird menace from beneath the earth. The horror of this story is visceral, bleak, and uncompromising. It is not a wall-to-wall gorefest, but once bad things start to happen they do not stop. If you haven't seen a good horror movie lately, or want to try something new and unique, give this a go; 'The Burrowers' delivers!"
Very Good Horror/Western Hybrid
Stephen B. O'Blenis | Nova Scotia, Canada | 06/14/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A horror movie set in the old west, The Burrowers is in the gritty, hard-edged end of the westerns spectrum, and taps into suspense and deadly monsters on the horror front. When a frontier family is found savagely murdered - with some members missing - it's assumed they were killed by Indians and the survivors have been taken captive. A posse led by John Clay (the always effective Clancy Brown) quickly forms to track down the abductors and rescue the survivors.
Things start to go from bad to worse when the hunt is commandeered by the cavalry and its thuggish commander. The original intent of John and company is to go after whoever's responsible for the massacre and the abductions; to the commander, since Indians were responsible, it's an excuse to shoot up any Indians they happen to come across. Heavily armed and outnumbering the members of the original posse that they're riding with, the commamder and his goons turn a hunt for justice into a debacle and, unable to stop them or to stomach them, the original posse splits off to try and return to its original mission. Neither party is prepared for the fact that it wasn't Indians at all who took part in the massacre, but something totally unknown to white men. Some of the tribes know of the tales of these 'burrowers', and one rider who gets captured by the cavalry could have possibly given them some information about the creatures, but having been blindsided while minding his own business, then tortured at the commander's orders, he's little inclined to help his captors out.
One of the captives is found alive - just barely breathing, paralyzed and buried alive in the middle of the desert. As the hunt continues, it becomes clearer that they're not dealing with a group of renegade Indians, but the posse has no choice but to continue on and try to find the rest of the abductees, and whoever or whatever took them. Which leads them closer and closer to the home territory of the legendary 'burrowers'. They're nothing like the fast sandworms from Tremors or the underground dwellers from The Descent (Original Unrated Cut) [Widescreen Edition], but a brand new movie monster, one that, given their number and backstory (the various Native legends tell that the Burrowers have appeared and re-appeared periodically for ages) could esily come back for a sequel or two or even a centuries-earlier prequel.
The Burrowers is a very good movie in its own right, with an added virtue. This is one that could prompt fans of westerns to start checking out horror movies, and horror fans to give some westerns a try. Any movie that can generate cross-pollination like that is valuable to the entire field of movies.
Even without that though, Burrowers is fully worthy on its own merits. Definately reccommended."