Take a Drink: for curiously intellectual words/phrases to come from Western settlers
Take a Drink: for the body count
Do a Shot: for period-accurate racism
Do a Shot (re-watch edition): Introduce this film to someone who has no idea what it’s about and drink a shot each time they shout “What the F#&$?” or other such exclamations.
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Two Beers) –
The quiet Western town of Bright Hope is attacked by an unseen force and several citizens are brutally killed or kidnapped. A Killer, a Sheriff’s Deputy, and a Nurse. Sheriff Hung (Kurt Russell) hastily organizes a search party to find the kidnappers, and hopefully save as many of the captured as possible. Members of the search party include the backup deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), well-dressed gunman John Brooder (Matthew Fox), and Arther O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), husband of the kidnapped woman. An Indian in town tells the Sheriff that the kidnappers are likely from a tribe of “Troglodytes” who the Native Tribes in the area fear and detest due to their propensity for cannibalism. He warns the party that if they venture out into the home of the Troglodytes, they will not come home alive…
I was not in the least bit surprised after viewing Bone Tomahawk that Writer/Director S. Craig Zahler was a novelist before he got into filmmaking, as the dialogue in this film is so creatively verbose, so incredibly slick, that it is almost too much for its own good. Unrealistic as it might be that a small town bar in the middle of nowhere is named “The Learned Goat” for instance, I cannot help but find that every single witticism or silver-tongued barb does anything but enhance the movie in my estimation.
Kurt Russell is the leader of a universally solid cast including Sid Haig, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, David Arquette, Lilli Simmons and Sean Young, all of whom deliver the material without an ounce of irony, lending gravity to their situation, while also making the humorous moments work all the more. Too many “Genre-Bending” movies are little more than one-note jokes, or excuses for B-level exploitation. In taking the material so seriously, the film transcends the campier elements of the story and becomes serious filmmaking.
Every once in awhile a film will be released to VOD that I watch and wonder why a larger theatrical release didn’t occur. This didn’t happen with Bone Tomahawk, and I know why. I seriously doubt that distributors had a clue what to do. Equal parts dark, revisionist Western and gruesome horror movie, Bone Tomahawk has feet deeply in two genres. Whereas this would be a problem for less assured storytellers, this film manages to navigate both bodies of water with equal skill. The problem lies in the challenges of marketing this sort of film. Western fans tend to be older, as the genre hasn’t had much more than a fleeting impact on pop culture since the 1970s, and Horror audiences tend to skew younger. As it stands, though, if you’re the kind of person who scrolls through Netflix for hours looking for something you want to watch in painful indecision, Bone Tomahawk is a brilliant streaming/rental option.
The film’s direction is very serviceable to the story, but at over 2 hours in length, the film could have used a bit more nuance in the visual department to keep things interesting. This is Writer/Director S. Craig Zahler’s feature debut in the director’s chair and his focus definitely tends towards dialogue above all other concerns. This can create some slower moments in the middle, but fortunately the film’s breakneck finale is packed with so many gruesome details and brutal thrills that soon the slowness of the second act is forgotten.
One of 2015’s best films is a Western features David Arquette, Sid Haig, and cannibal cave-dwellers. It also features some of the smartest dialogue this side of the Coen Brothers.