Bone Tomahawk

Directed by S. Craig Zahler
USA 2015


Late 19th century America.
The tranquility of the small village of Bright Hope is shattered by a disturbing nighttime event: Samantha (a nurse), an injured criminal, and the young deputy sheriff have vanished without a trace.
It is soon discovered that they were taken by a tribe of cannibalistic cavemen. The sheriff and three other men, including the woman’s husband, decide to set out to find and rescue the unfortunate victims.


For his debut film, S. Craig Zahler navigated between John Ford and Ruggero Deodato. Behind this statement lies much study and inspiration: John Ford, Sidney Lumet, Tarantino, and a great taste for the aesthetics and history of America, which Bone Tomahawk pays tribute to with great culture and wisdom.
To enhance and raise the qualitative bar of the film, there’s the choice and performance of a well-chosen and highly spirited cast.
Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, Richard Jenkins as the old deputy sheriff, and supporting actors Patrick Wilson (Insidious, The Conjuring), David Arquette (Scream), and Matthew Fox (Lost). Additionally, the never too lamented Sid Haig appears in minor roles.
Bone Tomahawk features excellent direction, a screenplay with well-developed psychological characters, and outstanding dialogues. More than two hours of western that flow by swiftly. This is because Bone Tomahawk knows how to create an insidious and hypnotic atmosphere, where we know the Indian is there, off-screen, ready to strike like in a golden age western. An atmosphere that the characters learn to inhabit without preening, without falling into caricature. Realism dominates, even encroaching on the brutal cannibal executions by the Indians, which are never too invasive but hit hard at the right moment.
A film that went directly to home video and then to Netflix in our country but deserved a different fate because it embodies what we often wish for from today’s cinema: taking a genre, consuming it, digesting it, and then creating something new without distorting tradition. Bone Tomahawk is a perfect example of a modern western. And I said modern, not contemporary. This is because it remains true to many conventions and atmospheres of the genre while incorporating new elements that offer something more to today’s audience, weary of much of the “already seen.” Bone Tomahawk does not feel like déjà vu, quite the opposite!
Of course, we are still talking about a western that suddenly “twists” heavily and turns into a Survivor and Cannibal film with scenes and moments that are hard to forget. The redneck population (more than the Indian one) is unforgettable. A grim, savage look, with fierce gazes, sculpted physiques, and impressive corpse-painting.
The cannibal clan is a creation as horrific as any other variation of the ‘mutant’ caveman model.
Painted in white chalk, with fangs inserted into their mouths, and communicating through frightening howls (themselves obtained through some macabre alterations of their throats).
These cunning, predatory, and ruthless beings prove to be “godless” men who dismember human bodies and feast on them.
A unique horror western, a mash-up that on paper might raise some eyebrows but ultimately proves to be a perfectly executed experiment with a violent and extreme third act, savage and merciless, like other frontier stories the wild west has been able to tell without cannibal tribes but with just men.


Once captured by the indigenous tribe, one of our adventurers is trapped upside down and completely dissected in an extremely violent and gory scene.

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