Bone Tomahawk Review
It is by no means a rarity to see an A-list or household-name actor in an indie, low-budget, or controversial film. More than ever, actors are willing to expand their horizons for the right script. Some do it for artistic significance, others out of desperation to reestablish some semblance of a career, while others have conceded to a life of low-budget films to retain a decent lifestyle on quantity over quality (here's looking at you Nic Cage). I'm not sure where these actors mentioned in our comic above fall, but I'd argue they'd find homes in this spectrum at the very least.
Kurt Russell isn't who he was 20 or 30 years ago, but the guy still has respectable acting chops (evidenced by his performance in this movie). Patrick Wilson seems to have an affinity for low-budget horror movies with a quality production value, with Arquette in a similar boat. Matthew Fox...well, let's face it, we only know his name because of Lost. Yet, these recognizable faces filled out a cast that delivered a film we are severely frustrated with ourselves we were unable to catch at the Telluride Horror Show.
Beyond the 50's, 60's, and 70's of classic western cinema, there haven't been any films with much value that have blended with the horror genre. The only film since of note I can think of would be The Burrowers, which was a rather enjoyable film with a perfect blend between the two genres, and was one of the bigger indie surprises of the past decade. Bone Tomahawk blows that film out of the water.
It is not often a horror film shocks the likes of us, but Bone Tomahawk had moments of disturbing and mind-burning violence that isn't usually seen this side of torture porn. The slow-burning western style of the cinematic piece made the violent moments all the more abhorrent and impactful. Even knowing that eventually the film would take a 180 degree turn, it hits you so fast and never lets up that you are latched on to every breath that remains in our heroes. The eerie lack of a score, the unflinching camera that focuses on the violence rather than turning away, the build of dread and hopelessness that you didn't even know was there until men start losing body parts...it was all somehow original and reminiscent of various westerns and horror films at the same time. It was a remarkable film in that it was wholely its own.
I was concerned from the premise that this film was going to be racially upsetting to certain groups, but its navigation of the subject matter that culminates in the almost-creature-feature-like reveal makes the film all the more glorious in its tact, despite offensively visceral violence. I was impressed, to say the least, by the production value of the feature. And while westerns are not my forte, this film gave me an appreciation for the craft, with its wit and courage.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 8/10
Film Quality: 7/10