Based on the short film, Blood Red Earth by J. T. Petty, The Burrowers is a western themed horror movie. Starring Clancy Brown, William Mapother & Laura Leighton the movie tells the story of a race of supernatural creatures that live under the ground of the old west. It also deals with themes of racism & the brutality shown towards Native Americans by The US cavalry.
A group of early settlers are attacked by unknown assailants & dragged off into the night. The attackers are suspected to be Natives of the land so a posse of men is rounded up to venture into the unmapped territories to try & find the missing people.
Unfortunately for everyone involved what awaits out there in the unknown is far worse than some vengeful Native Americans.
The Burrowers is a film that can boast an impressive mixture of horror & Western themes with some top acting. An initially interesting story struggles to get off the ground with a really slow & boring first quarter. However, once it really gets going it’s an enthralling watch but not for the reasons you might expect.
Truth be told, the creatures take a serious backseat to the real horror of the movie. The real horror is in the racism & treatment of Native Americans. In particular the way in which the cavalry behaves. When they capture a Native, they abuse & torture him to try & get information out of him. It’s a harrowing scene but nowhere as bad as the leader going ballistic because someone fed him.
Uncomfortable scenes but so well acted.
In comparison, the reveal of the actual creatures is disappointing. They don’t look particularly good thanks to average CGI. However, the story behind them is interesting. Older then we know, they’ve lived & survived by feeding off the Buffalo. With the increase of settlers, there are less Buffalo forcing the burrowers to find new food. First the Natives, then the settlers. We are to blame, they were here first.
It’s a harsh reminder of just what happened in America back then. If the not-so-subtle messages of the movie don’t really do much for you, then you’re probably not going to enjoy The Burrowers. It’s a really slow burn of a film but one that stands tall thanks to the quality acting & great meshing of a Western & horror.