the burrowers | j.t. petty | clancy brown | david busse | william mapother | western | thriller | united states | monster | monsters | murder | death | karl geary | galen hutchison | doug hutchison | sean patrick thomas | david midthunder | history
Film: The Burrowers
Director: J.T. Petty
Writer: J.T. Petty
Starring: Clancy Brown, David Busse and William Mapother
This film takes place in the Wild West. We start at night with a family that hears something coming. The father believes it is Native Americans so he goes out to head off whatever it is while his eldest son takes the family down into a crawlspace to hide. Something attacks them and they drop their lantern.
The next day we see two men checking in on them. One of them is Clancy Brown, who I believe is the sheriff for the area. With him is Karl Geary. They don’t find anyone and they think they’ve been taken by Native Americans. Geary finds a picture that he takes with him.
We then shift to a family that is going out to have a picnic. From what I gathered, the mother was married previously and has a son. She is played by Laura Leighton and her son is Galen Hutchison. The man that she is seeing now is played by William Mapother. Hutchison notices a man with a funny hat riding up. It is Geary. Mapother sends the woman and her son back to the house and he speaks with him. Mapother agrees to join up to find the missing people along with Hutchison.
Brown, Mapother and Hutchison go back to the house to investigate. On the property Hutchison notices a weird hole as well as the grass around it mashed down. These three then join up with a soldier and his unit. The man in charge is played by Doug Hutchison. Also in his unit is a cook played by Sean Patrick Thomas. Doug has a Native American guide and interpreter as they hunt to try to find what happened to this family. Mapother’s horse almost falls into some loose dirt. He doesn’t notice it, but we do that there looks to be flesh of something that was once alive.
This group comes upon a Native American in the distance and Doug fires his weapon, killing the man’s horse. He is played by David Midthunder and tries to run away, but he is knocked out. Doug then starts to interrogate him, with the help of Mapother, to see if he knows what happened to this family. Midthunder brings up the name of what they assume to be a tribe of Natives, known as the Burrowers. He is glad to see that they like not just Native American meat, but also white.
That night, four men from the unit disappear and we see that there is something in the grasses. We don’t get a good look at it, but it walks on all fours and has a terrible screech. Doug is upset the following morning to learn the men disappeared. There are also more of these holes that they find. It is this day that they find a woman buried under the dirt. They don’t understand what would do this and they hear a weird scratching from her shoe. When they remove it, they find two of her toes are moving. Is there something inside of her? Or are other parts of her moving as well? Is she alive or dead? Galen is tasked with taking her to be buried properly.
Mapother, Geary and Thomas break away from Doug’s unit as they know he is on the wrong trail. They happen upon a Native American woman, played by Alexandra Edmo, who gives them the mythology of what the Burrowers actually are. Can they find the missing family or is it too late? Can they survive what these things are?
This was a film that I saw a trailer for back when I was in college, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing it. I have to say that I am glad that I did. As most probably already know, I’m really big on story and I like that about this film. For creatures, which this is a Western creature feature, I either like a good back-story or know pretty much nothing at all. I like that this one gives us almost a mythology of what The Burrowers are. It is something that we know in real life didn’t exist, but there were a lot of mysterious things happening back during the wild times that something like this could happen. I’m not big on Westerns, unless they are done right, which I think this one is. It raises the stakes for the time period as there are no hospitals or places to find when out in the open prairie. What also makes this great is these things used to eat Buffalo, but after the white man pretty much killed them in extinction, they had to turn their sights on other forms of food. This gives it an added dimension for me. I was also a big fan of the ending as well.
I felt that the acting of this film was good. Brown doesn’t have a lot in this one, but his look was perfect. Mapother was solid in this film. What I like about him is that he can speak a little Native American, but being that no one else can he actually lies to his group about what they are saying if it goes against him. He is getting desperate at that point and I love the character flaw. Geary is good as well. I liked that he was smitten with the eldest daughter so he will stop at nothing to save her. Doug Hutchison was solid as the arrogant, jerk of a military soldier. Galen Hutchison and Thomas were great in support as well.
From here I want to touch on the creature design and the use of CGI. Now according to IMDB, many of the monsters are based on people and their movements, but it looks like CGI was used over top of them. This film was very good about keeping them in the dark and shadows, which makes them scary. At the climax we get a real good look at them and I think they looked creepy. I think other filmmakers should take a note of how they use computers to make this, because I was impressed. They also use it when horses or people get shot to show the blood spurts. This looked good too, which normally is one of the issues I have when it looks fake. I thought the editing was good for the most part. There was a slight lull to me when I got a bit bored, but once it gets to the climax I was locked. The soundtrack didn’t stand out to me, but it definitely doesn’t hurt the film.
Now with that said, I would recommend this film if you like creature features or Westerns. I thought the creatures looked good and their mythology helps to build on them. It is a pretty scary thing to deal with during the time period. Westerns and horror don’t give mixed often, but in a case like this it is very good. I thought the story and concept were solid as well. The acting was good. The editing of the film could have been tightened a bit, but it doesn’t ruin it. The soundtrack doesn’t stand out or ruin the film as well. This is definitely a film you don’t hear a lot about, but I think it is worth a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10