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.
A snappily-scripted one-act, a rugged western, or a white-knuckle horror flick? There's some obvious conflict between these disparate but solid parts, and visually, it can be drab. Yet, "Bone Tomahawk" is such an intriguing cocktail, it's impossible to be dismissive of it. I admired its attention to immediate details, great characters, and stomach-churning visual effects.
Deputy: "Beware, you speak to the law, you ain't boss here". Man: "No, I'm just the smartest. Sheriff & O'Dwyer got a wife & you're a widower". Deputy: "What's that gotta do with it?" "Man: "Smart men don't get married" == "Attention, tu parles à la loi, t'es pas le boss ici" "Non, je suis juste le plus malin. Le Shérif est marié, O'Dwyer aussi & toi t'es veuf" "Quel est le rapport?" "Les gars futés ne s'marient pas"
Suffers immeasurably from being placed in the hands of a first time hack director. Blocking, exposition, and internal rhythm of individual scenes are either inert or wildly off. Production design is embarrassing (intentionally?). Some good actors, sure, but Patrick Wilson and Lili Simmons absolutely do not belong in the movie's world. Only thing going for it is the Grand Guignol stuff, which will appeal to fanboys.
****1/2. This is really but really good. The director will undoubtedly belong to the circle of the major American directors in a few years. He knows how to create an atmosphere, he knows how to surprise his audience and he knows how to film a landscape. Now does he already know what he has to tell us? I don't know. Strongly recommended.
A slow-burning oater with a dash of gruesome cannibal horror. To be honest, the pace was a little too slow (even for a slow-burner) and the suspense suffered at times. But otherwise, the film was of the highest quality - great performances from an impressive little cast, beautiful camera work, and creepy creatures. A worthy entry in the new Western canon.
An interesting genre mashup that is definitely a western, but also blends in horror-like elements. The script and dialogue are traditional western, and Richard Jenkins is great in a Walter Brennan-like role. A unique experience and yet more proof that in retrospect, there have been a number of outstanding westerns made in the last 15 years.
It's a shame "Bone Tomahawk" proves so visually uninteresting - watch it on mute and you might mistake it for a direct-to-DVD cheapie from the twilight era of Blockbuster Video - when the film's authentic-sounding period dialogue positively sings and the performances are stellar across the board. Even with a flat look, the rock solid script makes this a successful fusion of horror and action not unlike "Predator."
The film's intensity certainly grabs your attention from the first scene, but the narrative is a mess; it's a beautifully shot western with some bizarre diversions. The alien-like barbarians ruined it for me. I was struck by the peculiar parallels to Kurt Russell's character in the Hateful Eight.