About Bone Tomahawk
When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell), sets out to bring them home.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox Runtime: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Western-horror mashups are a genre I need more of in my life, and Bone Tomahawk delivers on its premise of cowboys versus cannibals in spades.
As Sheriff Hunt, Kurt Russel leads a four-man squad into the hills to rescue the abducted wife of cowboy Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson). Joined by O'Dwyer, Hunt's Back Up Deputy, and sharpshooter John Brooder (Matthew Fox), the group is beset by O'Dwyer's broken leg and a group of Mexican bandits who make off with their horses.
Bone Tomahawk is deliberately paced, lulling viewers into a false sense of security. When violence strikes, it comes in quick, rapid-fire bursts straight out of nowhere and provides enough shock to keep the viewer glued to the screen. In between are quiet interludes, oftentimes filled with witty banter that really help to personalize each of these characters. Russel, as expected, continues to be at the top of his game, and it was terrific fun to see him back in a western and bringing with him the same commanding authority that made him so iconic as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone.
Matthew Fox, however, was the big surprise for me here. His John Brooder is an interesting sort, his keen intellect setting him apart from, and in his own mind oftentimes above, the others. He's smarter than everyone else and damn well knows it, and he's quick with a rifle. When we first meet him he convinces the sheriff of his place on the group on account of the high number of Indians he has killed. When chided for boasting about such a thing, he deflects - it wasn't a boast, merely a fact. He's coldly analytical and consistently interesting when on screen.
The cannibal savages provide bookends to the narrative, but their presence in the finale catapults this western into the truly vicious, reminding viewers that this is a horror story cast in a Wild West mold. While their introduction at the film's start is tense, it's not until the last half-hour or so that we get a true taste of their intensity. I won't spoil it, but these savages (or troglodytes in this movie's parlance) are truly and wonderfully that, and screenwriter and director S. Craig Zahler rises above mere Native American stereotypes and into the otherworldly territory of the great unknown in the open wilds of the Old West. There's gore aplenty, and the violent climax provides several scenes that are brutally wince-inducing.
Bone Tomahawk works as both a terrific western and as a haunting horror flick, with a top-notch cast that brings Zahler's vision to life perfectly. Highly recommended.
Bone Tomahawk is available now on Amazon Prime and Blu-ray.