20 May 2009 | chaos-rampant
For a Few Burrows More
For a movie probably pitched as "Tremors in the old West", The Burrowers turned out to be a pleasant surprise, a movie almost better than it has any right to be or at least better than one would expect given its budget and straight-to-DVD status. Unlike the vast majority of western horror hybrids it works so well exactly because it takes its western self as serious, if not more so, than its horror one. Even though it's made like a horror movie, comes with all the generic paraphernalia of one (jump scares, loud sound cues, etc.), and panders to the straight-to-DVD Lionsgate audience more than western loyalists, it still convinces that its western credentials have as much place in it as the horror hijinks, that they're not mere exotic props to be wielded as diversions from the usual clichés of another monster movie. Before the rather forgettable schlock of the finale, the movie has soaked up enough eerie frontier atmosphere of wide open prairies, deserted Indian camps and abandoned wagons, to make the creature feature aspect seem almost redundant. And in doing meets Neil Marshall's The Descent and Dog Soldiers in equal terms. Let's face it, the Old West could be a pretty terrifying place without us having to add supernatural touches to make it scarier 150 years later. This I believe is The Burrowers' greatest success: it earns its horror credentials by remaining serious within its western setting.
That's not to say it's gonna win any accolades for originality. But it's competently made sufficiently acted and well lensed to hold together at the seams. If the prospect of a western creature feature sounds like something you would enjoy, The Burrowers will rise to the occasion and try and please. If not then it never had a chance with you. Fans of both westerns and horror (two genres that sadly don't mix as often as they should, still waiting for the filmic equivalent of a Blood Meridian to prove it) will have a ball, traditionalists of either will probably cock an eyebrow.