After an outlaw unknowingly leads a band of cannibalistic Troglodytes into Bright Hope, the monsters kidnap several settlers, including the wife of a local rancher. Despite his injured leg the rancher joins a small rescue party with the sheriff, his aging deputy and a gunslinger.
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Less a spaghetti Western than a pulled-pork horror movie, Bone Tomahawk is a terrifically effective piece of filmmaking whose ugliness, including not only death by scalping and vivisection, but also images of blinded, amputated, pregnant indigenous women, is deliberate and self-conscious.
The hook of Bone Tomahawk – Kurt Russell fighting cannibals in a frontier town – may suggest a comical romp, but novelist and first-time director S Craig Zahler’s ambitions are far loftier than low stakes revivalist exploitation. It’s an unpredictable, offbeat picture, which places the mythical notion of the West at the point of convergence between horror and the western.
Branded upon Bone Tomahawk’s oater tropes is cluster-bungling of a decidedly Coen-esque stamp, as men’s quirks and foibles, as well as the more mundane aspects of life on the trail, are milked for sly comedy. The effect is greatly assisted by the verbal wit of Zahler’s screenplay, with one mannered zinger following fast on another.