JT Petty’s The Burrowers really should be a bit better than it actually is. The idea of combining the western and horror genres is quite intriguing and Petty has a good basis for a strong movie but unfortunately he falls a bit short with its implementation. Many times throughout the week I have heard over and over how The Burrowers takes The Searchers and combines it with Tremors. While this comparison is true at the most basis level it really does not live up to such comparisons.
When making a comparison with The Searchers one can not help but think of John Wayne’s bigoted cowboy. In The Burrowers instead of having the main hero be an anti hero we meet a violent racist captain in the army. In many ways this takes an interesting concept and waters it down to the point of being forgettable. What JT Petty should have done was to have at least one of the three main cowboys, Coffey (Karl Geary), Parcher (William Mapother) or the rancher (Clancy Brown) take on a similar role to that of John Wayne in The Searchers.
The other comparison has been with the movie Tremors. This comparison can really only be made because the monsters of both movies travel under the ground. When you make this comparison you are not giving enough credit to Tremors good sense of humour as the humour is sorely lacking here. The Burrowers is not meant to be a light fun horror movie. It is quite dark and I do not see this necessarily as a negative but when the comparison is made then the expectation will be there.
While it may sound like I am being fairly harsh on this movie it is only because of the comparisons which have been constantly made. The Burrowers has some very good points that should allow me to recommend it. It is a beautifully shot movie and does not fall into the trap that some westerns do when they linger just too long on the horizon and scenery shots. The acting is top notch from everyone involved. The premise of the movie is very interesting and finally the special effects are top notch as it relies on a combination of both practical and CGI effects.
Overall though there is nothing too memorable about Petty’s The Burrowers but on the other hand you could do a lot worse. With a few changes to the characters and a little bit more delving into the racial tension The Burrowers would have been an excellent movie. As it is though I would really only recommend this one to die hard fans who would like to see a mixing up of the western and horror genres.