Blitzkrieg Blog: Catching up with The Burrowers, The Strangers and Star Trek

I’ve watched a bunch of movies in the last few days, all the while reading books like a madman (my summer vacation is gonna end up being a week long, I’m trying to induce a media OD before then). I’ll try to get to the books at a later date, each with their own entry. Here are the films:

J.T. Petty’s The Burrowers is best described as The Searchers meets Pitch Black. It’s a creature feature/Western that deserves an A for effort but, sadly, gets a B+ for execution.

The film is slowly plotted and has a passable script, but the real draw here is the strong cast (stocked with veteran character actors Clancy Brown, Doug Hutchison and William Mapother) and great creature effects. The FX are a mix of practical makeup and CGI and look fantastic.
The word here is production value, considering this bypassed theatrical play (a real shame as it is head and shoulders above 90% of the crap forced on audiences) I was shocked by the film’s lush visuals and top notch period costuming.

Despite its pacing shortcomings The Burrowers is good, dark, bloody fun. Ignore the lackluster box-art (Lionsgate seems bound and determined to torpedo all their straight to video releases with ugly art that make the films look like SciFi Channel original productions) and either pick this up or rent it.

On the DVD side of things The Burrowers could have had a bit more in the way of features. There are only two short (about 5 minutes each) EPKs included, which while cool, are not enough. The director made a prequel film for FearNet and it is a crying shame that those are not included with this release.

File this one under: “I missed the boat bigtime.” I recently caught up with The Strangers on cable and it is easily one of the best horror films released last year. An entry in the home invasion subgenre the film is one of the most technically proficent scare machines in recent memory. Writer/director Bryan Bertino uses camera placement and the audience’s own knowledge of the genre to tear their nerves apart. I don’t jump easy, but this film got me.

It does have around 10 minutes or so where the act begins to run thin (I’m thinking here of the old eye-roller: “there’s an old radio in the shed…if I could just get to it”) but the film’s brisk runtime and strong performances keep it from over staying its welcome.

Having watched and rewatched Micheal Haneke’s inditement of the horror genre Funny Games (in both its native Austrian and American incarnations). I was ready to rip my hair out rather than go to The Strangers when it was in theaters, but now I’m sorry I didn’t.

Light on gore, but bleaker than any mainstream horror film released last year: The Strangers will have you peering through the shades and turning on the porch light for at least a week.

As for theatrical releases this week I saw Star Trek. I did not have very high hopes for this as the trailer makes it out to be some sort of bastardized-MTV-version of Star Trek. That is NOT the case.

This movie is the real deal. A big-budget summer blockbuster that doesn’t suck. The script wasn’t Shakespeare and it did get a little “wink wink remember that character/episode/line?” at times, but there is really nothing to complain about with a film this good (especially one budgeted at $200 million).

J.J. Abrams has brought an anemic franchise back from the dead (“reboots” are always a tricky proposition) and I for one am praying for a sequel. Long live the new Trek!

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