Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Director(s): S. Craig Zahler
Writer(s): S. Craig Zahler
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons
I was trying to figure out a strong entrance for this month’s entry, Bone Tomahawk but it seems that the genre description on its IMDB page pretty much said what I loved about this movie; DRAMA. HORROR. WESTERN. Yup, as simple as it sounds, that’s the exact reason why this flick was such a fantastic watch!
The DRAMA – The flick centers around a rancher who joins a group of men on a mission to save some local townspeople who were kidnapped by a pack of Troglodyte cannibals. Already, there’s so much at stake since our rancher is also dealing with a broken leg and one of kidnap victims happen to be his lovely wife! The movie plays well as an ensemble flick with each person in the rescue party having a distinct personality trait that plays well to the looming danger of the mission. You have the wounded rancher, Arthur that is going off sheer willpower due to his broken leg played by Patrick Wilson. You can feel this character’s heart as he’s constantly battling through the pain to get to his wife who he fear may be dead. Leading the pack is Sheriff Hunt played by the legendary Kurt Russell who’s as gruff as he is tough. You have the wild card, Brooder played beautifully by Matthew Fox who is known as the local gun slinger/womanizer/drunk/all around bad-ass who is always ready with a good quip and a mysterious grin. Rounding out the team is the elderly backup deputy Sheriff Chicory, played by Richard Jenkins who serves as the heart of the group.
The cast of this flick does an amazing job in playing into their archetypes to the point where even though you know how they would react to certain situations, you end up still at the edge of your seat waiting for them to do something that surprises you and for me, I was actually quite surprised on the turn of events for each character’s fate. It’s safe to say that most of the characters in this flick had a solid arc and you end up highly invested in these brave men that risked everything to do right by their people.
The HORROR – What’s interesting about this aspect of the flick was that you have different kinds of horrors that plagued our group of heroes. The first kind of terror that you experience in the flick is the harsh conditions of the Wild West. As our rescuers start their journey, you begin to see how difficult life is for in the West with an unforgiving environment with unlawful bandits ready to kill anyone who may have something they want to loot. You forget for a bit that our group are hunting real monsters when they’re surrounded by the thieving monsters that roam the plains for unsuspecting victims.
You then have the obvious cannibalistic monsters that have kidnapped the friends and loved ones of our main characters that definitely serve the gore element of the movie. Esthetically, the pack of Troglodytes are the stuff of nightmares with their deformed physiques and ridiculous strength. There are some great scenes that remind of you some of the best zombie/cannibal flicks and the kill scenes that highlight their brute strength are as disturbing as they are entertaining. The flick does an excellent job of a slow burn for their presence as you only see their aftermath in the beginning of the flick, glimpses of them around the middle and full on mayhem towards the third act.
The WESTERN – So man elements of this flick are great call backs to the Westerns I’ve enjoyed over the years like Tombstone or Unforgiven. I mean, as much as I loved Kurt Russel’s character, Sheriff Hunt, his acting is not too far off from one of his most famous roles as Wyatt Earp! Every character in the group can be easily linked to Western stereotypes but I think the most entertaining character to watch was the wounded rancher, Arthur. There is a nice theme in a lot of Westerns where the odds are stacked against the main character but with grit and perseverance, our hero comes out at the end with the willpower to overcome all obstacles. This flick follows the same kind of path for our main character but the pathway to victory came with plenty of gore and what seems at times unsurmountable challenges. Just like the Westerns I enjoy most, there is an element of investment in the characters to the point where you are rooting for the heroes to destroy their enemies. Not enough to just meet their goals or save the day but you want them to punish those who did them wrong and although the payback may be clumsy or even inadvertent, you still get so much satisfaction to see how our heroes prevail against the monsters.
So how far would you go to save a loved one? Watch Bone Tomahawk and decide if you have the kind of gall, bravery and a bit of depravity to keep your loved ones safe. If you do, then your partners are quite lucky and anyone who wishes them harm should watch their back!
Life is FAR more interesting when we take interest in things that scare us.