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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!! Another entry in the Period Horror sub-genre!
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...
Published on April 24, 2009 by Elaine

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique mix of horror and a western
I thought this film wasn't bad, certainly worth checking out if nothing else. Its Cowboys vs Indians vs monsters. I thought the monsters were pretty cool - not unlike the monsters in the Descent, well kind of a stretch but in that same vein Id say.
The story is about a group of pioneers searching for missing children and women - they seem to feel the missing persons...
Published on September 19, 2010 by D. Steigman


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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!! Another entry in the Period Horror sub-genre!, April 24, 2009
By 
Elaine "Horror Journalist" (The Deep, Dark, Gothic South, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
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!
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, unusual horror flick, April 25, 2009
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
"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+
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Searchers meets The Descent meets Tremors., May 1, 2009
By 
Paulo Leite (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique mix of horror and a western, September 19, 2010
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
I thought this film wasn't bad, certainly worth checking out if nothing else. Its Cowboys vs Indians vs monsters. I thought the monsters were pretty cool - not unlike the monsters in the Descent, well kind of a stretch but in that same vein Id say.
The story is about a group of pioneers searching for missing children and women - they seem to feel the missing persons were abducted by Indians. What they run into are called Burrowers which eat rotting corpses. They bury their victims alive and then eat them once they are rotten enough. Sounds pleasant enough right ? There are a few horrific scenes & a few jump out of your chair jolts. There wasnt any over the top gore at least by my standards.
The film is set in the Old West. I keep wanting to label it the dark side of Tremors actually.
Personally I thought the film was okay - good but I just wasnt into the characters, maybe a little too bland, maybe a little too 'western' for me. The performances were fine, but as with some films the characters dont grab you. Im not really into westerns so that part was a minus but the horror elements made it overall fun to watch, at least toward the 2nd half of the movie. It does drag out for a while until we get to see out supernatural night crawlers..there were some slow points but when the monsters come around things pick up.
Anyway , this is definitely worth a look
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of Western, Drama, and Horror, October 28, 2012
This review is from: The Burrowers (Amazon Instant Video)
The Burrowers follows a small group searching for a family that they believe might've been abducted by Indians; what they (eventually) find is much more terryfing. The film is a mixture of the western, drama, and horror genres. Although it's often referred to as a horror film, it doesn't only rely on horror to entertain.

The story is thoroughly interesting and entertaining. This is coming from someone who usually dislikes western films. (I have only enjoyed a few, though.) The movie blends drama, mystery, and horror with a western setting; and it works well. You don't actually see the Burrowers until later in the film, although you do see them creeping in the unfocused background; ultimately, I did like the design of the Burrowers, but the effects could've been better. It's a fairly slow film, but it was able to keep me engaged most of the time. The acting was great, the music was also great but not actually what you would expect from a western, and it's shot very well (camera angles, etc.). The ending picks up the pace a bit and is also brutal, in a way.

The Burrowers is a great western/drama/horror. As of 10/28/12, this film is available on Amazon Prime Instant Video and Netflix Streaming.

The Burrowers has strong violence and blood, no sex or nudity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IMPRESSIVE, RESTRAINED, SMART AND EFFECTIVE!, May 7, 2014
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
I must give "props" to my very good Ammie friend FM! It was his glowing review of this film that led me to take a chance and purchase this DVD. This is usually a catastrophe because of high expectations, but this time I would be more than pleasantly surprised.

The Burrowers does it's share of borrowing, but never steals anything. it is in it's own right a new classic of the horror genre. The film has a great cast including resident loony Doug Hutchison('Tooms' from X-Files and 'Percy' from The Green Mile to name a few of his roles). Besides the cast, it has a a quality look to it with excellent pacing for those who like a simmering boil. With no CGI(YAY!:-D)and interesting looking monsters, this film plays like one of those classic old monster films from yesteryear. It has elements of Tremors, Motel Hell and Attack of the Giant Leeches, but is played totally straight.

This is one of the best horror films to come around in a while and I can't believe it took me a couple of years to be introduced to it. Thanks again FM, you made my day with this pick buddy! ;-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should Have Been Theatrically Released, October 28, 2011
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
A horror/creature feature masked in the old west. I was intrigued by the trailer I saw on another DVD and decided to buy this one. I'm glad I did. I'm a big fan of horror movies, and this one did not disappoint. If you like a lot of blood and guts on your movie plate i.e., slasher films, then this is not the film for you. However, if you're like me and enjoy horror films that are different than what is being churned out of the mainstream movie-factories then I believe you'll enjoy it. Setting was moody and unforgiving; acting was great, and even though the storyline is nothing to write home about, in this movie it works. In my opinion this movie is a heck of a lot better than the constant stream of horror remakes released in theaters. I've watched it a couple of times and have found it extremely well done and entertaining. If you want a good change of pace with your horror, I recommend it.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Played Out Like a Scary Two-Hour X-Files Episode, March 7, 2009
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
I didn't know what to expect when I put the DVD into the player, but I wanted to give it a shot based on what I read in the product description. When the movie finished, however, I knew this was going to be the best horror movie of 2009.

For some reason, I felt like I was watching a long X-Files episode even though the movie takes place in the 1800s. As a matter of fact, the guy who played the commander of the calvary was the same guy who appeared as "Eugene Victor Tooms" in the first season of the X-Files.

I understand it had a run at the Toronto International Film Festival but I don't know how it did.

I don't want to make any more comments about this film because I don't want to ruin it for you. I will say that Hollywood needs to make more horror movies like this.

One more thing, FEARnet is showing the prequel to this movie called Blood Red Earth. It runs for 18 minutes. Check it out. That's what I'm going to do right now.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Western, Real Horror, April 24, 2009
By 
M. Varden (Fairfax VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
I can honestly say I have not seen another film quite like this. It is a real horror western, and blends the two genres very well. The costumes, dialogue, setting, and casting all come together to create a very genuine Old West tableau... which is then invaded by a genuinely creepy, shockingly weird menace from beneath the earth. The horror of this story is visceral, bleak, and uncompromising. It is not a wall-to-wall gorefest, but once bad things start to happen they do not stop. If you haven't seen a good horror movie lately, or want to try something new and unique, give this a go; 'The Burrowers' delivers!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Be careful of what lurks in the night, December 28, 2010
This review is from: The Burrowers (DVD)
With a foreboding darkness that exudes uneasiness comparable to the tense atmosphere in The Descent, director J.T. Petty smartly utilizes pitch black, starless skies to create a sense of claustrophobia even though the characters are in the wide open plains of the Dakotas during the late 1800's. With no ambient light for hints or clues, the characters must stay close to the glowing ring of nighttime fire or risk being picked off one by one into the darkness by what quickly becomes a living nightmare.

I really liked the build up for this movie. Each detail is cleverly crafted and given incrementally. The people snatched up in the middle of the night leave no blood, no real struggle. Those who are found after capture lie in shallow graves, are borderline comatose, and have bizarre wounds, the likes of which even the Indian legends of burrowers can't describe. Initially and uniformly suspicious of local Indians, a civilian group of hunters - led by Irishman splits from their military escort because they believe the locals are not to blame.

Even the final reveal is rendered in dark contrasts to the otherwise sepia-toned Western film. There are details that allow the viewer to fill in the mental picture and create an anticipation - always greater than reality - that creates an even greater sense of dread. I didn't particularly care for the conclusion, but not all movies can be wrapped in a bow.

Relying less on the stylized pastoral landscapes of typical Westerns and more on the gritty, realistic isolation of that time-period, the greater sum of suspense and mystery overwhelms the ridiculous inclusion of a Manifest Destiny angle. I highly recommend this Western/Horror hybrid.

Jason
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The Burrowers
The Burrowers by J.T. Petty
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