Sunday, August 2, 2009

can u dig it?

The Burrowers (2008).
Dir: J.T. Petty
Cast: William Mapother, Doug Hutchison, Sean Patrick Thomas, Laura Leighton, Karl Geary, Clancy Brown, Alexander Skarsgard, Stan Burd, Robert Richard and Galen Hutchison.


It's 1879, somewhere on the dusty plains of Dakota (that's in America for our European - and probably quite a few of our American - readers) nice but dim Irish immigrant Coffey (Mimic: Sentinel star Geary, a dead cert to play Cassidy in the Preacher movie I reckon) is skipping merrily toward the Stewart family homestead after finally building up enough courage to ask for their young, flaxen haired daughter Maryanne's hand (and the rest of her obviously) in marriage (and hoping her tough as nails dad will agree).

Expecting to see his beloved running thru' the wheat fields to meet him, he's surprised (to say the least) to find a destroyed and blood soaked cabin, the family gutted (literally) yet no sign of his missis to be.

As is the way with these cowboy types, the local tribe of badboy Injuns are automatically blamed for this vile case of white woman rustling and a rescue party, led by the smarmy Parcher (cousin of Scientology stooge Tom Cruise and star of Lost, Mapother) alongside his lady friends teenage son Dobie (Hutchison) and grizzled nice man John Clay (professional everyman and Santa-alike Brown) is hastily dispatched to find Maryanne before the wicked red skins do anything rude to her.

"Do you think they'll eat her whole?"
"No, I've heard they spit that bit out".
(This 'joke' only really works if you say it
out loud. Sorry).

Heading off into the brownly barren territories our motley crew soon come across the mad as a lorryful of spanners Cavalry officer Henry Victor (X-Files very own Victor Tooms himself Hutchinson) and his band of brothers, who happily drop everything to join in a wee bit of native bashing, starting with the first one that they find.

Yup, this Victor fella's a bad man and no mistaking.

And a rather sweaty one too.

When slicing his feet, cutting bits of him off and name calling fails to draw a confession from the poor guy, Parcher decides to offer him a nice cup of coffee and ask him nicely if he knows the whereabouts of the missing woman.

The Indian brave still denies having nothing to do with the abductions but begins to rant about a group of strange burrowers whom the Indians (especially the mentalist Ute tribe) have encountered years before.

Spoiling for a wee massacre, Victor assumes that these 'burrowers' must be an evil tribe and begins to prepare his lynching equipment and furiously sharpening his knives.

Parcher on the other hand isn't so sure, you see he's knows about stuff so reckons that if the Ute know anything at all it's probably best to go see them.

But not before an evening of manly chat, strong coffee, filter-less fags and much pissing in bushes.

It's during the night that things start to get a bit strange.

Soldiers keep falling into holes, there's a strange whistling in the air and a load of weird mini-crop circles with tunnels in the middle keep appearing from nowhere.

If that wasn't enough, when daybreak finally comes a few of Victors men appear to have run off during the night.

Or could something more sinister be afoot?

Frankly bored by Vile Vic's bonkers macho posturing (and no doubt disgusted by his stale man smell) Parcher and co. (now joined by disgruntled army chef Walnut Callaghan - Thomas from Teevee's The District) decide to go it alone.

Parcher's official Princess Diana novelty
table was always a big hit at parties.

As our merry band cautiously set off toward Ute territory, they rather unexpectedly find an abandoned wagon and stopping to see if there are any crisps and pop in the back stumble (quite literally) across a half buried (and three quarter dead) young girl in a bush.

Which is unusual (if not a little unnerving) for everyone involved.

Wanting to be the returning hero himself (and obviously not wanting to upset his missis), Parcher orders young Dobie to take the wagon to the nearest outpost whilst the real men continue on the quest.

Heading further and further in hostile territory, the group have to deal with not only random violent attacks from unfriendly locals resulting in a sudden and unexpected death, but the knowledge that the mysterious burrowers may be something more than just a mysterious native tribe but marginally less than human...

Fancy a Coffey?

As a native Squaw found nursing her dying husband after encountering the Burrowers explains to Coffey when he asks why they've never encountered these things before, she replies "...You white men killed all the now they have to feed on something else.”

Visibly shaken by this revelation but more determined that ever to find his true love, Coffey heads even deeper into the unknown....

"Aye hen".

After bursting onto the scene with one of the best debuts ever in the sublime Soft for Digging, JT Petty kind of fell off the radar somewhat, only resurfacing with the (fairly decent for straight to dvd) Mimic 3 and a dozen video games to his credit.

Luckily for us he hit back in recent (well, I say recent) months with the double whammy of S&man and The Burrowers, cementing his talent as one of the most thoughtful and lyrical directors working in the genre today.

Playing out like a stripped bare version of The Searchers as re-imagined by Joe R Lansdale, The Burrowers uses it's low budget to it's advantage, high on dialogue and characterization and builds uncomfortably toward it's climax like a slow moving dark behemoth whose shadow casts ominously across it's characters from the very moment they decide to discover the truth behind poor hapless Maryanne's disappearance, rewarding the viewer with an almost Brothers Grimm style climax in one of the best low budget horrors of the past ten years.

Oh and if that wasn't enough it does indeed have monsters in it!

What's not to love?

Pity then that Lion's Gate have chosen to unceremoniously dump it straight to DVD in the states, meaning we'll be lucky to find a copy for sale anywhere over here.


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