Sunday, 19 June 2011


A minor horror movie which is refreshingly different. Set in the Dakota Territories in 1879, one family is butchered and another kidnapped by, it is assumed, Indians.  Two groups join together to track the missing families down. One is led by the local sheriff (William Mapother, an actor whom Tom Cruise calls cousin) who had been courting a widow and takes her 16 year old son with him, and the Irish immigrant (Karl Geary) who'd been courting one of the missing, and several others. A cavalry captain leads the other group which includes a half-Indian scout and their cook, a freed slave.

It quickly becomes obvious to viewer that the real culprits weren't the Indians (and if it was this would be a western not a horror film and I wouldn't be watching it) but creatures which live underground. We find out later that they used to live on buffalo but since the whites killed the buffalo in their hundreds of thousands, the creatures have taken to human meat, starting with the Indians and now moving on to the whites.

One of the good things about this film is the characterisation. It's an ensemble piece with no obvious hero and few of the characters are, and please excuse the expression as it's completely inappropriate given the context, whiter than white. Some, like the cavalry captain are blatantly racist and brutal whose attitude to Indians is simply kill them but torture if possible. But even the best of them are at least self-serving and callous or short-sighted. They aren't a particularly nice bunch, just very human really, but they are interesting and the script is well-served by decent actors.

There isn't much in the way of gore but it is deeply brutal and grim in tone which is even better. The creatures are used often but mostly just briefly glimpsed in their appearances until near the end. They are also very effectively done.

All in all, this is a neat, effective and different horror thriller.

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