Dir: S. Craig Zahler (2015)
Author S. Craig Zahler has created a very strange beast with this rather mental and gruesome genre bender. A classic searching western which looks at how the the wild west was lost and a vicious horror film which gleefully spills the red stuff between long rambling conversation. A fine cast including Kurt Russell, Mathew Fox, Richard Jenkins and Patrick Wilson are all given slightly twisted western stereotypes to riff on while the film itself plays a game of two very different halves.
When the town sheriff (Russell), his old faithful deputy (Jenkins), a rich white savage (Fox) and a nearly crippled man of god (Wilson) head out in search of the latter’s kidnapped wife (Lili Simmons), Zahler rides us into the rescue mission at a walk not a canter. We’re privy to Quentin Tarantino tinged conversation through Hawks or Ford’s pacing; There are campfire scenes about the pains of reading in the bath and the destruction of the Native American, some handy surgery on Wilson’s hobbling everyman and a lot of speculation on the kidnappers.
When they do turn up to the cave of the savages, Zahler dips into Dusk Till Dawn territory using some out-of-nowhere shock and awe. A few spectacularly bloody set pieces are there to rile his audience including one of the finest, look-away-now, dismemberments put on film. The cast do incredibly well on the uneven ground, with Russell’s moustache and beard combo stealing nearly every scene with some excellent scenery chewing. There’s some fine laughable cameo moments too with Sid Haig and David Arquette adding to the off kilter tone.
At 130 minutes though, it’s all a bit too much for the bounty and, although the western tropes are played seriously agains the horror elements, one is close to devouring the other. All joking aside though, Bone Tomahawk is a brutal fusion of film genres with a ambling lead-in containing enough chatty gusto to get us all the way to the action.