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The Burrowers

Author: JT Petty

Genre: Western/Horror

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A disparate band of frontiersmen encounter murderous creatures thought to be an Indian legend.


When a family in the Dakota territories disappears, leaving only a bloody trail, it is assumed that Indians did it. A group of men in the area set out to rescue the family. Along the way, they encounter “Bluecoats,” a racially diverse group of men that include Indians and recently freed slaves. As this large group sets off on the trail of the family, they discover the body count increases as they get closer to whomever—or whatever—is doing this. The group is divided: many of the white men believe it was either the Indians or the blacks, but the Bluecoats and sympathetic white men believe it is something more powerful. They discover that the murders are being committed by creatures called Burrowers, who burrow both in the ground and into the bodies of their victims. The majority of the group is killed, and those who return home could not stop the Burrowers.


Setting a horror film in a Western milieu is a great cross-genre concept, and the racial tension between whites, blacks, and American Indians helps to heighten the paranoia that the screenplay tries so hard to build.

Unfortunately, too much time passes between attacks and body discoveries, and the group discovers the truth about the Burrowers far too late. In the interim, the script tries very hard to develop its characters and setting, but there are too many characters and too much detail to successfully pull this off. If it had even half the number of characters, while there would be less of a body count among the main characters, the audience would care a bit more when one of the main characters is killed.

Other than the ambling story and underdeveloped characters, the writing is pretty solid: good dialogue, interesting (if thin) characters, vivid (if sometimes overwritten) descriptions. If the paranoia were heightened and the characters were more fleshed out, this could be a very creepy suspense tale.

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