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The Burrowers
The Burrowers
Actors: Clancy Brown, Steph Delgado, David Busse, William Mapother, Jocelin Donahue
Director: J.T. Petty
Genres: Westerns, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     2hr 4min

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 »


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Movie Details

Actors: Clancy Brown, Steph Delgado, David Busse, William Mapother, Jocelin Donahue
Director: J.T. Petty
Creators: J.T. Petty, Alton Walpole, Jason Shuman, John Sacchi, Lauren Kisilevsky, Peter Block, Robert Hall
Genres: Westerns, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/21/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 2hr 4min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

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.

Movie Reviews

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."