The Burrowers

The Burrowers is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Burrowers (2008) – Rated R

“When the men on a pioneer homestead are brutally murdered and the women and children go missing, a posse sets out to find them, assuming they’ve been abducted by Indians. But they soon discover that the truth is much more horrific.”

“Looks like you’ve found yourself a hole in the ground there, Will.”

There have been plenty of attempts to blend the western and horror genres, usually with disastrous results. There was Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966 with John Carradine as Dracula), Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (also 1966), Curse of the Undead (1959), Undead or Alive (2007) and, of course, all the Tremors movies (the first of which was surprisingly good).

J.T. Petty directs The Burrowers. He makes good use of the 2.35 widescreen format. There are a lot of nice overhead shots early on featuring the burrows. Petty also makes good but not spectacular use of the New Mexican landscape, which is doubling for the Dakota territories.

Petty is also the writer of The Burrowers. I like how he has everyone assume that the attackers are Indian. As the attacks and clues get weirder, some of the men continue to head to the Sioux camp, while others realize that it is not the Sioux and split off.

Clancy Brown is a good character actor, He almost always plays a tough guy (Starship Troopers, Pathfinder) and usually the villain (Highlander, Shawshank Redemption). I will bet you did not know that he is also the voice of Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants. He is not used to anchoring a film as he has to here. He is pretty decent though he is better as a supporting actor.

Sean Patrick Thomas does a good job of playing freed slave/cook Walnut Callaghan. Irish actor Karl Geary is Fergus Coffey. Doug Hutchison is normally great as a villain. He was the supremely creepy and stretchy Eugene Victor Toombs in two episodes of The X-Files and reprehensible guard Percy Wetmore in The Green Mile. Unfortunately he is good but not memorable here.

There is a wonderfully creepy scene where some hay or straw sticking out of the ground turns out to be hair. They uncover a woman and then hear scratching. The reason behind the scratching is even creepier than the discovery of the body and the script wisely lets us figure it out instead of spelling it out.

Be aware that there is a scene that plays out during the beginning of the credits.

People Watch: Actress/contortionist Bonnie Morgan plays Burrower #1. Her roles often involve her ability to contort her body such as Terminator Rosie in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles annd inner-tube sorority girl in Piranha. She actually plays a contortionist in Minority Report. That seems like a fascinating way to get parts to me.