Let’s get something out of the way first — “Bone Tomahawk” (2015) isn’t only a western. It’s a genre-busting … “horror-western,” as other review sites have called it. It pits four protagonists against a tribe of monstrous “cave dwellers” who have kidnapped two people from their tiny frontier town of “Bright Hope.” And the results at the movie’s end are pretty damned horrifying.
This was superb — I’d give it a 9 out of 10. “Bone Tomahawk” succeeds in being scary and enjoyable simply because it’s a quality film. The script is outstanding, with nuanced, occasionally funny, and ultimately quite likable characters. The four leads — Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins — play the diverse quartet perfectly. I could honestly watch another one or two movies about these guys, even without the horror-movie plot device that this flick employs — and that is coming from a guy that doesn’t like westerns.
The directing and cinematography are perfect. And the end of the movie is nerve-shattering, smartly written and satisfying. (Although there is one violent sequence that might make your heart stop. Good lord.)
My only criticisms are very subjective. For one, this movie sometimes felt slow. The exciting horror-movie element that drives the plot is introduced early, but briefly. It is then more than an hour before we arrive at it again, as we follow the four protagonists traveling to an uncharted valley just to reach the bad guys’ lair.
For another … this movie got just a little too dour during its lengthy second act (the trek to the valley where the climax takes place). We see a few sad things, including the fates of innocent people and animals. These punctuate what is literally a painful journey for one of our heroes waging a doomed battle against a horribly wounded leg. Throughout its middle, “Bone Tomahawk” isn’t so much of a “scary movie” as it is a slightly depressing movie.
Still, this was fantastic. And if you see it and you really like it, as I did, then spread the word. This flick hasn’t gotten the press it deserves.
Quick postscript: watch for David Arquette and none other than Sid Haig in surprise supporting roles! And … supposedly Sean Young was in this movie, but I’ll be damned if I could spot her.