I’m getting a little sick of seeing DVDs projected at MIFF. New technology means that we get the opportunity to see films in the cinema we wouldn’t normally, though their resolution often isn’t up to the big screen test. Such is the case with The Burrowers, which seemed to have been filmed on… I dunno… videotape? Whatever the excuse, the picture quality was awful. It’s just as well it was a good film.
In the grand horror tradition, the opening scene shows a bunch of honest folk getting attacked by some unseen nasty. It’s unclear exactly what happened, or how many there were, but there was blood and screaming and to-be-honest-I-can’t-recall-but-it-probably-ended-with-the-opening-titles. Since several of the people are taken, a search party sets out to find them. They’re an unlikely bunch – including a child, a soldier, a bitter old man and the fiancé of one of the missing – and this makes for some neat clashes of ideals along the way.
As you may have guessed from the title, The Burrowers has a little in common with Tremors. Basically, it’s not safe to be on the ground when the beasties turn up. For the majority of the film the monsters stay hidden, which works wonderfully. When we do finally get a glimpse it’s a little silly but still effective.
This western/horror crossbreed is the prime example of the importance of a good script. The bulk of J.T. Petty’s previous writing was for computer games, but this doesn’t feel like a game in the way that, say, Eden Log did. The dialogue is perfect and though the film moves at a leisurely pace (at least by today’s standards), it keeps the intrigue and the infighting going all the way.
Clancy Brown is the only name I recognised here, though I didn’t actually realise it was him until the credits rolled. The rest of the cast is great, and together with the writing makes up for a lesser budget which subjects us to less than ideal costumes and that horrid film stock I mentioned before.
If Tremors was your kinda film, then you’ll like this one. It takes a careful and measured approach that the impatient may find tedious, but culminates in a climax that is masterfully handled – action packed and with a palpable desperation on the part of our hero.Rating: