It’s hard enough to get a western made in Hollywood these days, let alone one infused with significant amounts of horror, but thank god someone green lit production on Bone Tomahawk.
Bone Tomahawk is without a doubt one of best movies of 2015. Smart, sophisticated, violent and atmospheric, no only is one of the better western films in the last thirty years but a damn brutal and terrifying horror movie as well.
Set in a small frontier town, the premise follows the Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) as he leads a small group of volunteers (Patrick Wilson, Matthew Hunt, and Richard Jenkins) into the open prairie in pursuit of Troglodytes who’ve kidnapped several of the towns folk.
Writer/director S. Craig Zahler’s screenplay is fantastic, setting a methodical pace for our heroes all the while fleshing out every character with some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film. The look and feel is immersive to the point that Bone Tomahawk transports the viewer into the time period thoroughly, engaging us with its attention to location and set designs, superior acting and a willingness to show the brutality of the old west.
The horror elements are largely held in reserve until the third act, but when they come they are as brutal as anything seen in more over the top horror films. Bone Tomahawk stands out however because Zahler does such a magnificent job establishing the narrative and context in the first two acts that the crescendo of violence leaves us paralyzed with anticipation and genuine fear for our heroes.
I would be remiss if I failed to emphasize just how impressive Richard Jenkins, who plays Chicory the back-up deputy, is throughout the film. Jenkins performance is far and away the best of any I’ve seen in 2015 and although Bone Tomahawk is unlikely to be short listed for any of the Oscar categories Jenkins deserves a golden statue as much as anyone who receives one next month.
I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s easily in my favorite horror movies of 2015 along with It Follows, Spring, and We Are Still Here. Additionally, it fits in nicely with more mainstream violent films such as Sicario.
And for those hardcore horror fans out there, Bone Tomahawk features a cameo from Sid Hag, in a role that is probably the best he’s ever done.