Bone Tomahawk (4 stars)

Bone Tomahawk

Kurt Russell and Richard Jenkins star in a bloody good western horror hybrid

A spooky and darkly funny opener sets the disquieting tone for writer-director S Craig Zahler’s blood-soaked western horror hybrid. When a stranger enters the cosy community of Bright Hope an air of discontent blows through town, bringing with it a tribe of flesh-eating troglodytes who emit a chilling call-to-arms, commit brutal acts and steal the town doctor Samantha (Lili Simmons).

A stellar cast of Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox make up the group of men on the long and arduous trail to confront the cave-dwelling cannibals, but before they set out Zahler takes his time in introducing his cool characters and their idiosyncratic ways. Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell) is a fair man who keeps his second in command Chicory (Jenkins) close by, despite his nervous disposition. Arthur (Wilson) is a headstrong and loving husband to Samantha; he is suffering from a broken leg but has no choice other than to try and find his wife.

Comparisons to The Searchers have been made and, though this doesn’t hold a candle to Ford’s masterpiece in the visual sense, the suave John Brooder (Fox) has a similar racist attitude to John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. He tallies the number of Native Americans he has killed, and shows no remorse in gunning down innocent men. At the heart of the story is the relationship between Hunt and Chicory who engage in amusing discussions, such as the best way to read a book in the bath, and who question the violence laid down by men in the name of greed, land ownership and vengeance.

Zahler’s impressive directorial debut delivers razor-sharp tension that recalls the work of author Jack Ketchum. He crucially keeps you invested in the characters, so that when people start getting brutally dismembered, for optimum feeding purposes, Bone Tomahawk delivers much more than just waves of disgust.

Selected release from Fri 19 Feb.

Bone Tomahawk

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 2h 12min
  • 18
  • Directed by: S. Craig Zahler
  • Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox

This blood-soaked western horror hybrid tells the story of four men (Russell, Jenkins, Wilson and Fox) who aim to rescue a group of captives from cannibals. There is razor-sharp tension throughout, and while it is spooky, it is also darkly humorous, ultimately delivering much more than just waves of disgust.