Pros:Cool story, interesting mix of genres
Cons:Can be brutal at times
The Bottom Line: For a low budget horror western, this one was very well done.
The Burrowers is a cool horror western movie set in the late 1800's in the Dakotas. It combines U.S. military and Indian wars with a monster element, as the name implies. Creatures come from under the ground and eat people, but it's not as campy as Tremors. I really liked this one.
Recommend this product?
The story begins with a family of ranchers being attacked in the night. Their bodies are later found with cuts on their neck that seem very odd, and some of the females are missing. Fearing that Indians had raided the home, a small group of men join a military escort in search of what happened. One of those men had planned to marry a girl from the missing family, so he has a keen personal interest in the matter. While torturing captured Indians for information, they uncover something very scary that lives right beneath the surface of the earth.
I liked the situation presented in this story. It does feature monsters that eat people, but at the same time the targets of those monsters are the ‘soldiers' who go around slaughtering and torturing Native Americans. There is a clear juxtaposition between the two types of villains, and what I got from the story was that the underground creatures really weren't evil - just hungry. The soldiers, on the other hand, weren't exactly killing for food or even self defense.
This is not a big action movie, but it does have some shoot-outs and fighting. It is paced like most westerns where it is a bit slow-going with a lot of dialogue and a few action sequences. I thought it was a very well-made movie with plenty of suspense and the right amount of action and drama to keep me interested. I first saw the trailer for this movie a week or so ago and found it intriguing enough to want to watch this video. I think it might have had a chance at the box office if it had bigger name actors involved.
Because this is considered a monster movie, it is important that the creatures in it look good, and they really do. The trailer briefly shows what they look like, and more detail is shown in the movie. In the Special Features on the DVD, there's an interesting feature on how the effects department created the creatures. Most of the time, what you see in the movie are people in costumes or animatronics effects, and CGI is only used in a few places. You can tell when CGI is being used and when it isn't, and that's partly a reflection of the low budget nature of this movie. For the most part, everything still looked very good.
You will probably recognize the faces of some cast members, even if you don't know them by name. William Mapother was in several episodes of Lost, and Clancy Brown is a character actor from dozens of movies, though he is perhaps best known as the Kurgan from Highlander. Doug Hutchinson, who was in Green Mile and Punisher: War Zone, has a supporting role as the bloodthirsty leader of the soldiers.
I liked The Burrowers because of the way it blended genres so well. It mixes action and horror with some social commentary relating to the treatment of the Native Americans during that time period, and the end result is a movie where maybe the monsters aren't the real villains, after all. You should check this one out.