Review: 'Bone Tomahawk'

By: Heather Seebach

So, what if 1993's Tombstone said, "Nah, I'm not gonna tell the story of Wyatt Earp; instead I'm gonna be The Texas Chain Saw Massacre!" with Matthew Fox as Val Kilmer, and Kurt Russell as, well, Kurt Russell? That bizarre bastard creation would be called Bone Tomahawk.

When cave-dwelling, cannibalistic savages descend upon a small frontier town and abduct a young doctor (Lili Simmons), four men brave the wild west to find her. Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell) is the stern but fair lawman leading the posse that includes the doctor's wounded husband Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), Southern gentleman/Indian killer John Brooder (Matthew Fox), and the dumb but well-meaning old deputy, Chicory (Richard Jenkins). 

The first hour is a slow ride, the highlights of which being Matthew Fox's slightly eccentric Kentucky Fried Asshole character and Kurt Russell's impressive whiskers. The film definitely could stand to lose some running time but once it gets to the bloody stuff, oh boy! There is a single slaughter in this film that out-balls every single kill in the other recent cannibal flick, The Green Inferno. Eli Roth, take note! The violence in this one is at times extreme but it's not so much the gore that unnerves as the sheer brutality and disturbing nature that is akin to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Yep, that is Sid Haig!

Aside from its excessive length, Bone Tomahawk struggles with oddly misplaced humor. On more than one occasion, very serious moments are interrupted by silly, almost-anachronistic gags. A film of this sort really should dedicate itself completely to the grittiness, and those bizarre moments of light-heartedness are very distracting from the bleak tone. 

If you are a horror fan reading this (and you probably are) and gore is what you seek, you will not be left disappointed. You will have to sit patiently in your saddle for a while but when the blood comes, it hits hard. The film also utilizes sound effects with brutal effectiveness. Even a seasoned gorehound like me felt a bit queasy after one memorable scene. 

It is not without flaws but Bone Tomahawk is an interesting blend of hard-as-nails western and survival horror flick. The characters are likable and the cast is top-notch. It is certainly worth a watch to fans of either genre, or anyone curious to see what happens when John Wayne meets Leatherface. 

Bone Tomahawk plays in theaters and on VOD on Friday, October 23, 2015. 

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