I had high hopes for the western/horror hybrid The Burrowers (2008) and for a little while it seemed as if they might be achieved. The overall story is not unlike the John Wayne movie The Searchers (1956). A group of settlers is attacked and brutally killed in the night, only some of them, women and children are missing. The belief is that it was done by Indians and a search party is put together to rescue them and eventually discovers that the true enemy is a species of strange predatory creature which lives underground, forced to find new prey after white people wiped out the buffalo.
This movie is beautifully shot and well acted, but moves at an almost glacial pace. The rescue group stops to camp, it seems, in every other scene, and when they aren't camping seem to change direction constantly as they claim to be continuing forward in their search. It also takes them an incredibly long time to figure out what's really happening. This is a grim, modern western, heavy on the grim end of things. There are some disturbing visuals, but unfortunately the burrowers themselves are not among them. Initially, suggested by being scene as out of focus objects moving behind the backs of on edge night sentries, the burrowers seem to be effective, but when revealed to be grub-like creatures much like a cross between something from the spider pit sequence of Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005) and a person crab walking on their back with their knees in the air, like the creature from Xtro (1983). Their design does not suggest anything that burrows through the earth. I would have preferred some giant worm. The movie ends up being most effective in its examination of man's violence to his fellow man, which is nothing new, but leads to a bleak ending that would matter more if the movie was better. It's not a bad movie, but a disappointing one. It suggests a lot of promise that doesn't get delivered and takes too much time getting nowhere.