Movie Review: ‘Bone Tomahawk’
Starring: Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox, and Patrick Wilson
Plot: In the Old West, a 4-man posse set out to resuce some of their fellow townsfolk from cave-dwelling troglodytes.
Horror hybrids are a dime a dozen and always tend to be a little more horror than whatever they are trying to bond with. Horror is just that kind of genre. It tends to attract storytellers that love the tropes and archetypes that came before and are just trying to out do each other by creating variations of the other elements. It can make for some entertaining viewing, but when they are capable of really creating a true marriage between the two genres, it makes for necessary viewing.
Jaws is one of those kinds of movies. Every minute of it feels like an adventure and a surprisingly nuanced look at male bonding, especially for something that is often given credit for starting the “blockbuster” (which nowadays means “expensive and long summer release” rather than “box office champ”). The best parts of that movie is when the 3 men out to sea are just talking and doing mundane boat stuff, and yet, it is definitely scary. I mean, it totally made me nervous whenever I was in the water when I was a kid. Bone Tomahawk is very similar. The movie’s premise makes you think it might be a cowboys vs zombies schlock-fest, but in actuality, most of the movie just follows these 4 gunslingers travelling through some harsh desert terrain building relationships, testing morals, and facing their own mortality.
The movie has 4 fantastic actors to play the posse. Kurt Russel leads them as the town sheriff, an almost supernaturally good and heroic man. He is paired with Richard Jenkins’ deputy, a man with an opinion about everything. Sometimes he is a funny dim-wit, and sometimes he is pretty damn profound. Patrick Wilson, having an invested interest in saving his wife, limps along despite a bad leg injury. He spends most of the movie angry and cringing through pain. Rounding out the group is Matthew Fox’s foppish gunhand, whose ego makes it hard to tell if he actually cares about saving people or just wants the attention.
Although, the whole movie will be trying to convince you that this is just a western, the horror comes fast and qwuick when the posse finally faces the cave-people. They are these ashy mud-covered people who belnd into the light colored sand and stone. They are decorated with bones and communicate through these intense howling whistles. The violence is brutal, and the camera is not shy about capturing it. Zahler knows exactly how to make it scary: by giving these gruesome prehistoric predators witnesses to clench in fear and disgust.
Bone Tomahawk is one of the coolest movies I have seen all year. This straight to VOD horror flick doesn’t deserve to go unnotice so genre fans should definitely take note.