Directed By: S. Craig Zahler
Written By: S. Craig Zahler
Staring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons
Release Date: February 19, 2016 (UK)
Credit to me seeing Bone Tomahawk goes to Conan O’Brien who recommended it on the “Unspooled” podcast hosted by Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson. And courtesy of him, I have a searing image of an upside-down man being torn in half by nomadic cannibalistic Indians.
Bone Tomahawk is nothing what you’d expect. It’s a horror movie that takes place in the waning days of the wild west that pins a crew against native cave dwellers who don’t take too kindly to unannounced visitors. Staring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins and Lili Simons; Bone Tomahawk runs at a brisk pace and the dread it brings at its conclusion does leave you shocked at the horror this story is able to punch.
The story centers around Arthur (Patrick Wilson) and his desire to save his wife Samantha (Lili Simmons) who has been kidnapped by the mysterious Troglodytes while medically helping an outlaw who unknowingly ruined their sacred ground. Unfortunately for Arthur he is hobbled with a broken tibia, so it falls upon Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) to lead a rescue party. Arthur can’t stay away so his handicapped self joins Hunt, the sharp-shooting Brooder (Matthew Fox) and lovably incompetent Chicory (Richard Jenkins) on the trek to terror.
Bone Tomahawk plays out like a monster movie in a way. Maybe even a depraved version of Mario and clan going up against Browser and his minions. The group of heroes and questing to save a damsel in distress, though Samantha is smart in her own right as a medically trained professional. They encounter various evils but there is one truly badass boss introduced in the end who leads all his other cannibalistic brethren. In terms of being a monster movie; the audience is only granted hints of the terror over the first two acts of the movie with various haunting sounds and small visuals. Only in the third act are the monsters unveiled and the full scope of the terror is brought into focus.
The structuring of Bone Tomahawk is emblematic of horror movies from the 70s & 80s. The landscape adds to the terror. How Alien (1979) uses claustrophobia to its advantage, Bone Tomahawk uses vastness to its own effect. The characters created by writer and director S. Craig Zahler are simple in their defined rolls and that’s okay because it allows for the shock value of the Troglodytes to be even more bombastic.
Overall Bone Tomahawk is worth a watch because it is so insanely different than what you’d expect. Sporting a rather notable cast, they all that put their egos aside to create this hole-in-the-wall type of hidden gem.
Stanko Rating: B