Monday, February 22, 2016

Film Review: Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Bone Tomahawk (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"Rarely does a film horrify as much as Bone Tomahawk."

Purvis and Buddy make a living by robbing and killing travelers. As they abscond from a crime, the pair stumble upon a Native American grave site and accidentally disturb a violent tribe...

Bone Tomahawk is a horror-western film. The film continues to follow Buddy. After Purvis is killed at the Native American grave site, Buddy absconds to the town of Bright Hope. At Bright Hope, Buddy encounters Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) — an encounter which leaves Buddy with a bullet in his leg. Franklin enlists the wife of Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), Samantha, to help with Buddy's surgery. By the time morning arrives, Franklin and his deputy find the town has been covertly attacked by Native Americans. To make matters worse, Samantha, Buddy, and a fellow deputy seem to have been abducted by a savage tribe of cannibals. So, Franklin and Arthur form a small crew to execute a rescue mission. I won't say much more as I don't want to spoil the surprises during the latter of the film. The film leads to a surprising third act and good ending, though.

Bone Tomahawk is a great film. I'm usually not the biggest fan of westerns, but the use of horror in this really hooked me. It's not a 'jump-out-and-boo' horror film. Instead, Bone Tomahawk works around its ominous atmosphere, unnerving suspense, shocking gore, and horrifying story. It all comes together to create a very effective package. Rarely does a film horrify as much as Bone Tomahawk. It'll make you shudder from the sheer dread. I'd advise you go into this blind, just know that it is very bloody. It's not the perfect film, though. Although the slow-burn pace works most of the time, there are a few scenes that felt bloated and dragged out, which ultimately hurts the pacing — even for slow-burn lovers, there is such a thing as 'too slow.' I find this is a common issue in westerns, at least for me.

The performances are great, though. Kurt Russell is splendid as the lead and Patrick Wilson also delivers a strong performance. Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins also offer some strong supporting performances. The film is shot very well, capturing the setting beautifully. There isn't much music in this film. In fact, I'd wager most of the film has no music at all – maybe five or so minutes. It's not a bad thing, though. It ultimately works out in creating the tense atmosphere. The film is written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, who also wrote Asylum Blackout. Zahler creates a very effective horror experience. Although there is some filler in here, he covers all of his bases and ensures the plot isn't left with gaping holes or inconsistencies. It could use some fine-tuning to cut out some fat, but it's hauntingly beautiful anyway.

Overall, Bone Tomahawk is a great horror western. It's suspenseful, horrifying, and very entertaining. There are a few dull moments and some pacing issues, but it's otherwise a haunting experience. If you love westerns and horror, you'll enjoy this gory treat; hell, even if you don't love westerns, like myself, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, nudity and sex.

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