Monday, December 3, 2012

Something to dig about: The Burrowers

Film Title: The Burrowers
Year:  2008
                                                                      Director: J.T. Petty

Firstly, let me say that I am honored that Gorehound Mike has brought along on his trusry blog here. It is an honor and a pleasure to be working with him to infirm you about the best of the best, the bloodiest of the bloodiest, and just what the hell NOT to watch. That said, let's begin.

The Burrowers is an interesting piece of film. A western themed horror film that constantly keeps you guessing and thinking, I was not not really all that familiar with it until Gorehound Mike had assigned me the review. It was not what I was expecting, in all honesty. When judgeing by the cover alone, I swore I was being set up to watch yet another zombie film ("please god no!"). I was relieved to find out otherwise, heh.

The film opens with what appears to be a frontier family sitting down in their prarie home for a peaceful dinner. Within moments, something quick, dark, unseen, and decidedly nonhuman shows up tp stalk and kill them.

The family is discovered dead and missing, and within days several frontiersmen (one of which played by stalwart Clancy Brown), along with a seriously racist Calvary brigade, go on a mission to find out who slaughtered the family. The calgary are convinced that it was a tribe of Indians responsible for the crimes, and eventually begin to try and torture a confession out of their captive.

Now, I actually found this to be the most interesting part of the film. The theme of post-Civil War era racism and racial disharmony is felt by every character in the film, whether they are perpetrating, suffering from, recovering from or directly feeling the effects of.

One scene in particular is quite nasty as one of the affoermentioned Indians is having his toes snipped off one by one. Due to the wholly unpredictable terror instilled upon the others by the completely psychopathic  calgary lead, no one can literally do anything at all to help the poor screaming and mutilated bastard. These portions of the film are incredibly well written/acted/directed, and actually plays out as an interesting lead in to everything that follows.

Eventually, the four frontiersmen awake to find the Calvary gone, so they set out on their own, travelling deep into the odd rolling flats of the frontier, empty and desolate land. They finally find what appear to be burrowed crop circles (they are not crop circles, by the way).

The film here begins to drag a bit, but is alive by little flourishes of interesting such as the constant odd little clues and unique bits of (sometimes too obvious) foreshadowing -- many of which involve insects. While the atmosphere is kept pretty thick, and the overall mood is certainly one of a down beat kind of tension, the film seems like it comes to a standstill.

Eventually our scruffy heroes find the body of a female buried -- and still alive, though incommunicable -- discovering an odd scratching/sluicing sound coursing through the inside of her body. I can't really mention too much else here other than to say it plays out in a fairly unique way before it succumbs to being just another monster movie.

Just before the end it finally picks up. I won't toss a bunch of spoilers out there, but I will say that these are some of the more interesting and unique creatures I've seen in recent monster flicks. Being vaguely insectoidal (and possessing of truly weird and discomforting facial features), they are frightening in upclose animatronic and practical fx shots. However, they fail on every level possible when it comes to CG and CG enhancement. Seriously, they look ridiculous. Like something out of a bad video game. (You will all come to fins that I am quite unforgiving toward CG effects of any kind, and I feel my reasons are legit, but that's another rant for another time).

The film ends with a couple of surprises, yet seems to close on a seriously vague note. The racism of the earlier part of the film comes full circle in an almost startling way, and not a whole lot is really explained when the credits start to roll. I'm not sure what the whole point was after viewing. Ancient legends and myth lost to the darker parts of improperly told human history as a final point to cap off the film? Or was this just a lazy, muddy, slapdash ending to come in under budget and on time?

You really should just watch and find out for yourself. It's not like you'd be wasting your time, as this is a very original, blended-genre r film that takes it's chances and, though usually missing the mark, as least it has the balls to TAKE those chances.

Vincent Daemon is a writer of transgressive horror fiction and has been published in various publications and anthologies over 22 times. He is also the creator and editor of Grave Demand Magazine. For info on obtaining his short stories or Grave Demand Magazine please contact him at

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