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Bone Tomahawk review: “Funny, sickening, and exciting.”

Bone Tomahawk review: Kurt Russell goes western once again, but this time it’s with a horror twist.

Bone Tomahawk review

Bone Tomahawk review

Westerns have gradually snuck back into fashion and we couldn’t be gladder. They may not be the lead blockbusters they once were, and with Jonah Hex still fresh in the memory that is very unlikely to happen, but we have already had some biggies this year alone with The Revenant, and The Hateful Eight. Now we see a western that takes one of the stars of the latter, Kurt Russell, and puts him in a genre mash-up film as the western goes horror.

The two are well matched bedfellows in this day and age, as the Hollywood romanticisation of the gunslingers and the west has been replaced with grit and grime, reminding us that these were not great times to be alive in. Bone Tomahawk takes it to the extreme with a gang of cannibalistic troglodytes kidnapping more civilised folk and ending them in cruel ways before feasting on their flesh.

Bone Tomahawk review

Bone Tomahawk review

After the cannibals are lead to the ironically named Hope, in pursuit of a drifter (David Arquette) who has witnessed the extent of their mercy, they take not only him but also Samantha O’Dwyer (Lili Simmons). Hoping she is still alive a team gathers together and goes on the hunt. This includes the town’s sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell), his back up deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), Samantha’s injured husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson), and an armed gentleman with bragging rights to the deaths of many indians, John Brooder (Matthew Fox).

The dynamic between this quartet is what truly sets the film on the path to originality, with witty and memorable dialogue, and true chemistry. Russell and Jenkins have a delightful relationship, with Chicory often taking the blame or sticking up for his sheriff, while also musing on the little things in life. Despite the nature of their journey, Chicory questions how people read in the bath without getting the book wet, and also if flea circuses use actual fleas.

Having Wilson as an injured cowboy makes for another interested twist on the formula. He’s injured due to an accident that predates the film, so his heart driven determination constantly stalls. Despite this, Hunt has no interest in trying to persuade Arthur to stay behind as he knows it will be futile. These four lead performances are the backbone, with every actor bringing their all to the roles.

Bone Tomahawk review

Bone Tomahawk review

Warmly short, like a haunting fairytale, the film feels uncomfortably settling despite the obvious horror that is about to take place. When it does explode, the graphic violence maintains its impact by being real and utilising practical effects. Making us feel for the characters is also a huge plus in this regard, as what the characters goes through resonates with us. It may be a simple plot, but it’s the little touches throughout that make this a modern treasure.

Destined for cult status, Bone Tomahawk completes a trio of fantastic violent Westerns this year alongside The Revenant and Hateful Eight and trumps them both. Funny, sickening, and exciting, Bone Tomahawk is a crowd pleasing horror western which is both exceptionally well made and consistently enjoyable.

Bone Tomahawk review by Luke Ryan Baldock, February 2016.

Bone Tomahawk is released in cinemas today.

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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