The Beast of Sunhome Mountain by William Kuechenberg | Script Revolution

The Beast of Sunhome Mountain

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Page Count: 
112pp

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Logline: 
A disillusioned Navajo police officer must protect his family and come to terms with his identity when he learns that his reservation is the home of a skinwalker -- an ancient, shapeshifting serial killer.
Synopsis/Details: 

We open on a kill. A young Navajo man is mauled to death on the side of the road by WOLF TEETH, a skinwalker: a man that can become an animal. 



JOSEPH HASHKE is a full-blooded Navajo police officer. He moved away from the Navajo Nation after the death of his (caucasian) wife. He feels disillusioned with his heritage, and has only moved back to the reservation to take care of his mother, LYNN HASHKE. She is a traditional medicine woman and has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Joseph also wants his biracial daughter CLARA to have more time with Lynn before her death.



Joseph’s first day at his new job as a Navajo Nation police officer is a doozy. Almost immediately he’s called out to investigate an abandoned vehicle. It’s the car from the opening scene, as well as the body of the driver — or, at least, what’s left of it. It’s been ripped to shreds. Joseph is curious about the body’s mutilation, but the official line is that the driver died of exposure and was eaten by desert animals. Joseph’s skepticism is strengthened when he finds human bite marks on the body. Gunderson gives the duty of informing next of kin.

It’s Clara’s first day at her new school, and she’s having trouble adjusting. Some of the other students resent her for being half white, and her Navajo is too rusty to communicate effectively. MITCHELL, another student, shows her kindness and welcomes her into his friend group.



In the deep rez, Joseph tells the mother of the dead driver how he was found. She doesn’t seem to care: after all, she warned him not to go into the high desert or Wolf Teeth would get him. Joseph learns the local legend of the murderous skinwalker, who apparently has been killing young people for years. Joseph hits the police archives and discovers that there have been dozens of bodies found in similar states of mutilation — all of them near Sunhome Mountain, and all of them with ‘exposure’ written as the cause of death. Going against Gundeson’s orders, Joseph sets up an autopsy in a nearby city.



At school, Mitchell gives Clara a note inviting her to a party at Sunhome Mountain. When she returns home, Lynn teaches her some Navajo words and gives her a bracelet that’s been handed down in their family, hoping that it will help Clara to feel more connected to her ancestry. When Joseph comes home, he asks Lynn if she knows the story of Wolf Teeth: Lynn says she does, but refuses to speak further of it without the proper precautions. Frustrated, Joseph drops it.



Joseph drives out to get the autopsy done. Just as he suspected, the driver did not die of exposure. He was apparently ripped apart by wild animals. Now certain that there’s a serial killer in the rez, Joseph drives home.



Mitchell comes to pick up Clara, who forgets her purse and cellphone in her excitement. He drives her to Sunhome Mountain, where the party is happening. A little later in the evening, Mitchell takes Clara up the mountain away from the other kids, ostensibly to stargaze. Unbeknownst to them, Wolf Teeth is watching their every move.



Joseph returns home, where Lynn informs him that Clara is spending time with her friends. Joseph is furious, convinced that there’s something dangerous in the rez. He calls Clara’s phone and realizes she’s forgot it at home, in her purse — along with Mitchell’s note saying the party is at Sunhome Mountain. Joseph jumps into his pickup and speeds towards the mountain.



Now alone, Mitchell and Clara start kissing. They don’t notice Wolf Teeth, in his form as an enormous coyote, is approaching them…until he attacks Mitchell. He rips Mitchell to pieces and turns his attention to Clara when Joseph arrives. He empties his magazine into Wolf Teeth’s skull, stunning him (but not killing him). When Joseph realizes that what he’s facing is truly supernatural, he takes Clara into his truck and drives home.

Later, 

Joseph confronts Gunderson, accusing him of knowing about the skinwalker. Gunderson acknowledges this, but claims nothing can be done. Joseph leaves in disgust.



Lynn tells Joseph that Wolf Teeth cannot be harmed unless you know his name, which has been lost to time. Joseph urges Lynn to tell him the story of Wolf Teeth, and Lynn agrees on the condition that Joseph undergoes a Navajo protection ritual. In the sweat lodge, Lynn tells the story: Wolf Teeth was a medicine man who transformed himself into a skinwalker to defend his people from invading Mormon pioneers. The price he paid for his power was his humanity, his sanity, his name, and his firstborn daughter. 



Joseph leaves the house to pay a visit to an old friend of his wife, a researcher of First Nations history to learn Wolf Teeth’s name. 



When Joseph is away, Wolf Teeth captures Clara. Lynn is injured trying to stop him and is taken to the hospital. 

After Joseph finds Wolf Teeth’s name, he heads home when he’s called by the hospital, telling him his mother was raving that his daughter was taken by a beast. Joseph immediately changes course and heads towards Sunhome Mountain.



Wolf Teeth attempts to speak to Clara, but she can’t understand his Navajo. He grows angry and attacks her when Joseph arrives, now armed with Wolf Teeth’s true name. After a brutal battle, it seems like Wolf Teeth has Joseph dead to rights. It seems like it’s all over until—


Wolf Teeth notices Clara’s bracelet. She looks so much like the daughter he sacrificed. Joseph presses his advantage and kills Wolf Teeth in his moment of weakness. The threat is ended.



Months later. A traditional Navajo funeral: Lynn’s. Joseph and Clara make their peace with her death and their respective identities, then get in their car to return to California. 

After they leave, we see Lynn’s grave.

She was buried with her maiden name. We finally realize that the Hashkes were descendants of Wolf Teeth’s surviving child. 







Submitted: September 12, 2017
Last Updated: September 12, 2017

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William Kuechenberg's picture

The Writer: William Kuechenberg

Born into the wild wilderness of Northwest Indiana, I was above-average in all things academic and below-average in all things important. Having had my head filled with all manner of delusions of guaranteed success, I resolved to one day make my living creating the only things that made sense to me: film and television. This was, in retrospect, a rather foolish idea, and I should have instead tried for something more practical and easier to break into, like becoming the president or the first person to pitch a perfect game on Mars. I went to Indiana University of Bloomington, the finest collegiate institution that was willing to give me a discount. I got two degrees: one in Film Analysis,... Go to bio

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