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Film: The Burrowers

"You'll be awake in your grave. You'll be alive when they feed."

A 2009 independent Western horror film which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before being released on DVD. The plot concerns a family of Dakota Territory settlers who are viciously attacked and kidnapped from their home. When Irish immigrant Fergus Coffey returns to find his intended bride missing, he believes the family to have been taken by Indians and assembles a posse to rescue them. However, they soon discover that rapacious natives would be a kindness compared to the inhuman horror lurking beneath the ground.

Probably the best movie about cowboys fighting worm-people featuring Clancy Brown that you'll see this year.

Not to be confused with The Borrowers.


Tropes:

  • An Arm and a Leg: Happens to Parcher while he's being eaten alive.
  • And I Must Scream: A variation. The victims are not trapped forever, but they are almost completely paralyzed. They are apparently conscious the entire time, but cannot sleep, move, or speak. They just lay there in the soil, feeling their bodies rot, until the Burrowers return for them.
  • Anyone Can Die: In order of death, Mary-Anne Stewart, John Clay, Dobie Spacks, Will Parcher, Callaghan, Faith.
  • Army Scout: A Native American scout who cannot accurately translate another Indian's language. When the imprisoned Indian taunts him, he tortures the prisoner.
  • Asshole Victim: Parcher.
  • Blood Knight: Henry Victor, who only wants to kill as many Indians as he possibly can.
  • Buried Alive
  • Cowboy: Most of the characters.
  • Camp Cook: Callahan.
  • Cavalry Officer: Perhaps the most brutally sadistic and completely oblivious Cavalry Officer since Custer himself.
  • Chupacabra: The creatures match the concept in many ways.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death
  • The Dandy: Henry Victor is a psychotic breed of dandy, with his ridiculous moustache, moustache comb and tobacco pouch made from a Native American's scrotum.
  • Darkness Equals Death
  • Dwindling Party
  • Fate Worse than Death: You bet.
  • Fore Shadowing: The hymm sung near the beginning; Alas! and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote that sacred head, For such a worm as I?
  • Gaia's Vengeance: A very mild example. The creatures wouldn't normally interact with humans much, but their usual diet of buffalo has been all but wiped out by humanity. As a result, they've started snacking on the next most plentiful and widespread source of easy-to-kill meat.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Parcher and Clay are long-time partners.
  • Hope Spot: When the Ute seem to have a method of killing the Burrowers and when Coffey goes for help. Both times, the hope is quickly and brutally destroyed.
  • Indian Maiden: Averted. She is helpful, but not a romanticized character or a love interest.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: The song over the ending credits. Particularly unsettling is the lyric, 'go to sleep, you little baby...' considering what the creatures do to people.
  • It's All About Me: Henry Victor loves being in charge, and won't hesitate to remind others that he's the one with the authority.
  • The Load: Coffey and Dobie.
  • MacGyvering
  • Mercy Kill
  • Minimalist Cast
  • Nice Hat: Several characters. Coffey especially has a nice bowler hat.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Coffey is not an action hero gunslinger, and this point is hammered home when he fucks up in a big enough way to get John Clay killed.
  • Noble Savage: Averted. Even the Indians do some pretty terrible things.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Despite some of the taglines, the creatures aren't evil. They're just animals.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Burrowers aren't seen in full until the climax.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The creatures are not vampires. However, they do share some vampiric traits such as a weakness for sunlight.
  • Psycho Party Member: At times, most obviously when an Indian wants to leave an infected victim behind, and the victim flips out and threatens to kill everyone.
  • Posse
  • Politically Correct History: Averted. The characters aren't overt with their racism, but they use casually racist language. Most characters refer to Indians as 'skins' and a prominent black character is saddled with the nickname 'walnut'. Only Irish Fergus Coffey refers to him by his real name, and this is due to the kinship he feels with him since they've both faced prejudice in America.
  • Sanity Slippage: As Parcher descends further into paralysis, he becomes more and more unhinged.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Coffey's love interest and the other missing women are discovered to have died, most likely at the beginning of the film thus rendering the entire heroic quest meaningless. Every named character dies except for Fergus Coffey and the utterly psychotic Henry Victor...who, by the way, is responsible for the deaths of two Indians (execution) and Callahan (by botching an attempt to amputate a leg that likely didn't need it). Worse, with the two Indians dead, their secret method for killing the Burrowers seems to have been lost forever. It's deeply implied that the Burrower's attacks will continue and nothing has really changed.
  • Things That Go Bump in the Night
  • Wormsign: As the title would suggest.

A Bullet For The GeneralIndex of Film WesternsButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Bunty aur BabliFilms of 2005 - 2009 The Butterfly Circus
Burnt OfferingsHorror FilmsCabin By The Lake

alternative title(s): The Burrowers
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