Movie Name: Bone Tomahawk
Studio: RLJ Entertainment
Release Date(s): September 25, 2015 (Fantastic Fest)/October 23, 2015 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Criminals Purvis (David Arquette) and Buddy (Sid Haig) disrupt the burial ground of a race of Native Americans that the other tribes call “troglodytes”. Living in caves, the troglodytes pursue Purvis to the town of Bright Hope and kidnap Purvis, Samantha O’Dwyer (Lili Simmons), and Deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit). Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) and his back-up deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins) are going after the troglodytes and are joined by John Brooder (Matthew Fox) and Samantha’s husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson)…the troglodytes’ plans for their captives will be revealed!
Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk is horror western. The movie was initially released at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015 before receiving a general release in October 2015. The movie was released to critical acclaim.
I’m always up for seeing how a Western can be pushed. Previously a movie called The Burrowers took a similar plotline (a combining of The Searchers with a horror twist), but where The Burrowers often failed, Bone Tomahawk succeeded in the genre blend.
The story for Bone Tomahawk is simple but brutal. The movie (like The Burrows) seems to borrow a lot from films like The Searchers. A ragtag group of people go to rescue innocents from dangerous “natives” and there are questions on who will survive. The movie is long (2+ hours), but it does keep moving despite not a lot of a story. It is graced with good dialogue and a strong cast to deliver it.
Kurt Russell is always a solid lead, but he is barely the lead here. The character is a lot like his other characters…kind of a Snake Plissken of Escape from New York combined with MacReady of The Thing. Russell is joined by Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins who share the screen equally (which also gives the “survivor” options more questions). The movie also features Sig Haig, David Arquette, Sean Young, and Lili Simmons in smaller roles.
The production value of the film is also very high (something else it has over The Burrowers). Westerns always look great on the screen and the fact that this is a genre mash-up also provides fun. The troglodytes make-up allows them to blend in to the environment and their brutal attacks are gorier than most traditional horror films and it harkens a bit of The Hills Have Eyes.
Bone Tomahawk was a pleasant surprise. The movie seemed to fly under the radar but I think the good word of mouth could turn this into a cult film over the years. Unlike a lot of cult films, I think Bone Tomahawk could deserve the praise it could reap further down the line.