In the 1879 of The Burrowers, in the badlands of South Dakota, a family of settlers are attacked and abducted. The folks investigating, including Ethan Rom from Lost (William Mapother), Brother Justin Crowe from Carnivale (Clancy Brown) and Eugene Tooms from The X-Files (Doug Hutchison - also on Lost), think the attackers must have been Indians, despite the bizarre and bloodless wounds on the dead bodies left behind. The rescue party heads out and in short order - the movie is only 96 minutes long - learn that they are up against giant, fleshy cicadas with bloodworm-type mouths - the eponymous burrowers. These critters tend to sneak up on you at nighttime, stab you with a claw and then vomit a paralysing goo into the wound, incapacitating the victim. Then the burrowers drag them off and bury them alive, waiting for the innards to liquefy into a tasty snack. They are nigh impossible to kill too - bullets don't even faze them.
This movie rather felt like an extended X-Files episode - but without Mulder and Scully and you know, set in the Old West. It was fairly suspenseful (I jumped several times and peeked through my fingers once), gritty with washed-out colors. The filmmakers smartly didn't let us get a good look at the burrowers until the end; I preferred the practical effects to the CGI, which were well-enough done, but just didn't have the immediacy that practical effects do. It was medium gory, with people and horses getting shot, amputation (from a distance) and lots of squishy noises.
The horror western is an under-appreciated genre, in my opinion. While certainly are plenty of options should you so choose to explore the "Weird West," (lists of films found here and here), most people just don't think of combining the two. Is the thinking that in westerns you already have tough, scrappy people struggling to survive - and to add slashing maniacs or horrific beasties to the mix is just too much? I don't know - but I do know that The Burrowers (2008) is a solid little B-movie and a nummy treat for those of us who think that horror films and westerns are two tastes that taste pretty good together.
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