The Burrowers

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The Burrowers
Promotional film poster
Directed by J. T. Petty
Produced by Peter Block
Alex Franklin
Robert Hall
Lauren Kisilevsky
William Sherak
Jason Shuman
Alton Walpole
Written by J. T. Petty
Starring Clancy Brown
William Mapother
Laura Leighton
Sean Patrick Thomas
Robert Ri'chard
Music by Joseph LoDuca
Cinematography Phil Parmet
Edited by Andy Grieve
Robb Sullivan
Blue Star Pictures
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7,000,000 (estimated)

The Burrowers is a 2008 horror/thriller film with a Western theme. The film is based on an original short film, Blood Red Earth, from director J. T. Petty.[1]


The year is 1879, and beyond the fringes of civilization a handful of pioneers maintain settlements while exploring the unknown territories. One night, under the shimmering Western stars, a family from one of these settlements is brutally dragged into darkness by a group of unknown invaders. At first the kidnappers are thought to be hostile Native Americans, and a posse forms to bring the family back home safely. Venturing out into the unmapped territories is an Irish immigrant desperate to find his lost love, a naïve teen eager to prove his worth, a former slave seeking his fortune, and a hardened pair of battle-weary Indian fighters. But nature's wrath and the tomahawks of hostile tribes are not the only threats that this group will be forced to confront, because as the bodies begin to multiply and the truth about the abductors gradually emerges, these rescuers will find out that there are forces in this world that cannot be described in human terms—and that seem to have motivations beyond our comprehension.

A species, called "Burrowers" by the Natives, used to subsist on buffalo. When white settlers depleted the buffalo, the species began to survive on human meat - first hunting nearby Indians and later the settlers. One tribe in particular, the Ute, have experience in combating the hunter-species. The "Burrowers" first lace their victims by cutting them and drugging them with a toxin. The victim is then buried alive and eaten only after decomposition has begun. By the time the film's protagonists meet up with the Ute their numbers are severely depleted, but the Ute method of drugging someone already infected with "Burrower" toxin proves effective. When the "Burrowers" go to eat the twice drugged victim they themselves fall asleep and are vulnerable, especially to the rays of the sun, which are the only apparent thing that can kill them. However, the surviving member of the posse, the Irishman Coffey, is unable to discover exactly what the Ute used to drug the "Burrowers", as most of the remaining Ute are executed by the overzealous Cavalry. The film ends with the suggestion that the "Burrower" attacks will continue. In addition to the environmental message about changing ecosystems, the film assesses prevailing attitudes towards Blacks and Natives amongst the settlers in the West, with special focus on the brutality of the US cavalry.



The film was not released in theaters although it played at the Fantastic Fest and the Toronto International Film Festival.[2] The Burrowers has been available on DVD as of April 21, 2009.[3]


The film currently holds a 70% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[4] a rating of 4/5 from Horror Hound Magazine,.[5] Eric D. Snider, of, called it "a very accomplished effort by up-and-coming horror maker J.T. Petty (watch his S&Man if you can find it), is suitably creepy and exhilarating once it gets past its slow start. It's also an impressive mixture of the Western and horror genres, something that has rarely been done at all, let alone this well."[2]

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