Bone Tomahawk

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
Bone Tomahawk is a 2015 Western, written and directed by S. Craig Zahler.

A suspicious drifter comes to a tiny frontier town and is injured in a scuffle. A doctor goes to treat him, but both people disappear in the night, along with the town’s deputy. The doctor’s husband and the local sheriff are told that she has been abducted by the “troglodytes”, a clan of orc-like cannibals. The two men set out to rescue her, accompanied by the sheriff’s friend and a local gunslinger. But it won’t be easy: the sheriff and his friend are tired and aging, the doctor’s husband is recovering from a broken leg, and the gunslinger is a vicious man with a dangerous attitude. What follows is an tough, exciting and at one point extremely gruesome mixture of horror, Western and buddy film.

The direction is solid and the script is good: Zahler deserves considerable credit for both. Likewise, the lead actors are sympathetic and convincing. In particular, Richard Jenkins puts in a great turn as the sheriff’s friend and “backup deputy”. Ultimately, Bone Tomahawk works because it has likeable characters. The dialogue is very well written and surprisingly funny, the weakness of the characters is matched by their impressive determination to rescue their friends, and by the time they reach the valley where the troglodytes live, they have been set up as people we simply don’t want to die. It’s a surprisingly slow film, to begin with, but its willingness to spend time building up the characters is well worth it when the mayhem starts. Although at times Bone Tomahawk seems a little cheap and small-scale, I don't think it needs to be any bigger and grander than it is.

This won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if the combination of Western and horror appeals, it’s definitely worth seeing.

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