Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Burrowers

The Burrowers (2008)
Dir. J.T. Petty
Written by J.T. Petty
Starring Karl Geary, William Mapother, Sean Patrick Thomas, Clancy Brown, Doug Hutchinson

Actually a pretty damn good attempt to make a period horror film, even if for a long time it does sort of seem like a classy remake of TREMORS 4: THE LEGEND BEGINS.

There’s not a ton to say about it, but it’s a well-cast, carefully filmed, and unique little gem of a horror film which genuinely shows you something different and cool without being gimmicky and self-conscious about it. It makes good but subtle subtext out of it’s post-civil-war western setting and uses it to milk some good isolation horror out of the vast, hostile expanse its characters traverse. It even has a really unique badass character played by noted Tom Cruise cousin William Mapother (so good in ANOTHER EARTH, too). Mapother plays a gritty frontier badass, but he’s not some kind of John Wayne mythic type. He’s down with the Indians, but only knows enough of their language to barely get by. He’s familiar with death enough to not be shocked by a creepy corpse, but when someone asks if she’s been raped he snaps, “how the hell would I know?” He’s not a forensics expert, I guess. He’s a good guy to have around when shit goes down, but he’s pretty honest that if it comes down to him or you, it’s gonna be him. I like that.

I also like the burrowers themselves, which look like a cross between grasshoppers and cadavers. They have a particularly horrible method of killing you that I won’t spoil here, suffice to say it raises all kind of red flags for claustrophobics. Unfortunately the film doesn’t quite have the budget to make them move as fast and scary as it obviously wants to, but come on guys you can use your imagination on a movie which is otherwise this good. The only thing that’s a bit of a letdown in the climax, where it seems like our hero wins out way too easily. Fuckin' burrowers got to step up their game a little if they’re gonna keep up with the Graboids.

Still, this is an uncommonly well-made and well-imagined period horror film, maybe even the best one I’ve seen in many a year (better, for instance than DEAD BIRDS or RAVENOUS, which are trying to something similar). Director J.T. Petty (S&MAN) sprinkles just enough well-composed shots, convincing scenes, and original ideas to make me think he’s probably the real thing. Hell, he even got a pretty convincing Tom Waits knock-off for the closing credits, which demonstrates his genuine commitment to quality, even if it has to be budget-conscious quality. Give this kid some money and let him make something really wild.


BOOBIES: Don't think so.
> or = HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS LEVEL GORE: At least one good limb-ripper.
OBSCURITY LEVEL: Mid-High. Indie horror, but sort of known in some circles.
MONSTERS: Yeah, pretty cool ones.

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