Bone Tomahawk (2015)

When a group for cannibalistic tribe members capture people from the town of Bright Hope, it’s up to Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) and a group of townspeople to find them and bring them back home.

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons, David Arquette

MPAA Rating: N/A

Fun Fact: Filming was completed in 21 days.

I have been browsing through my Amazon Prime Video account lately to get more westerns up for this site. It’s been hard to get those movies on here because many streaming sites don’t really have them, and western movies haven’t been big in quite some time. Bone Tomahawk had caught my eye for a while, and I put it on my interesting titles to work on later list. Seeing Kurt Russell’s name on it gave me some excitement due to me being a big Kurt Russell fan and this is my third movie with him featured on this site.

First time director S. Craig Zahler wrote the script and even worked on the film’s score. Talk about a talented individual as he also has about five novels written and from what I have heard has quite a bit of scripts written that haven’t gone to production. The film’s story has a blend of western and horror elements that make it unique and Zahler does an amazing job at blending these two things into one. The main portion of the film is a tribute to old western films and the search for something. A lot of time is devoted of trying to get to the location where the big climax is going to happen. This film clocks in over two hours so you need to keep it interesting. Zahler has created a group of characters that work well with each other and you want to see more of them. Some of the best moments are when these characters are sitting around the campfire and talking. You get to know more about them, and you want to spend time with them on their quest. We get quite a bit of these scenes and when the action happens it goes quick. It took me by surprise at one moment when the group gets to the location of the tribe and it surprised me that I kind of jumped up from my couch. We get great buildup to these action scenes that they pay off when they happen.

This film has quite a bit of big named actors and they all have a great chemistry. It’s a Kurt Russell film and you know he’s going to deliver the goods. Russell portrays the sheriff of the town and he would do anything to protect the citizens that live there. Richard Jenkins delivers a fine performance as well and he was one of my favorites in the film. Matthew Fox plays the classic arrogant gunslinger and I couldn’t get enough of it. My absolute favorite character and performance goes to Patrick Wilson. His character has a lot of characterization and he has a big part of why they need to go on this quest to retrieve the townspeople. The only performance I kind of didn’t agree with was with Lili Simmons. Her character has some horrible stuff happen to her and she doesn’t come off as scared because the situation is terrifying. She plays it off as nothing horrible is really happening. It isn’t a bad performance per say it just didn’t work with what the situation her character was in. Sid Haig has a small part and it was just as great. It’s in the beginning and I wished he was in this a bit more.

The look of the Bone Tomahawk is fantastic with the locations they decided to film on. The locations are beautiful, and the cinematography really captures it. We get a lot of nice shots of the characters traveling through these locations and the action scenes are shot clean as well. When we see the cannibalistic tribe members for the first time it’s frightening. The look of them is nothing I’ve seen before in a western and it brings new life to the genre. These tribe members are brutal and the sounds they make are scary as well. The make up work on them is fantastic and it brings them to life. Zahler’s music shines as well when we see the tribe as it brings the tension to a new level.

Overall, Bone Tomahawk brings new life to the western genre. S. Craig Zahler not only makes a tribute to old western films, but does a nice job blending in horror elements to it as well. It’s a long film for something like this, but it moves quickly with a well written script from Zahler. We want to spend time with these characters, and we want them to succeed in their quest. With an all-star cast led by Kurt Russell we get well directed scenes with the cast that keeps the film going. While most might find it boring it picks up in the second half with quick and clean shot action scenes. When the villains show up in the second half, we get a nice blend of horror elements that pay off. If you want to check out a western that is well written, directed, acted, and shot, I recommend this film to you. I wish that S. Craig Zahler would get more work because I want to see more from him after seeing this film.

Verdict: Hit

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