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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. S. Craig Zahler

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

Like buses, westerns tend to be extinct until three pop up at once. Quentin Tarantino's big budget THE HATEFUL EIGHT along with the James Ransone economical vehicle THE TIMBER and now the more sinister events of BONE TOMAHAWK. Sharing the lead, Kurt Russell, with two of the three mentioned, BONE TOMAHAWK is a western that hides its horror extremely well, paying off with a viciously brutal closing chapter. Sent into the wilderness after his wife is kidnapped, Patrick Wilson (THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS) takes the local sheriff (Russell) on a lengthy trek to retrieve not only his wife but to put peace to the natives who feed on the flesh of humanity. While Russell looks like he has just walked off the set of THE HATEFUL EIGHT and owns the screen, the rest of the cast play a supportive pillar in this unconventional film of two parts. The film's drama is played straight from the pages of a Clint Eastwood western. Slow pace, macho behaviour and a penchant for a good gun fight all here in check. In principle none of the central characters are initially likable but their motives relatable. Whether it is the ruthless deputy Brooder (Michael Fox) or the lovable charm of Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the supportive network the unlikely companions share builds stronger as the stakes raise higher. It is only when the tribe confront the captors that the true horror arrives and only the minds of Eli Roth and Neil Marshall could imagine something so blood worthy.

Despite it's nature, BONE TOMAHAWK is a more faithful western than this year's bigger film and while the score doesn't quite live up to the classic of Ennio Morricone's instantly classic, there is an authenticity in S. Craig Zahler's film that extends further than its rivals. Whether it is the barren wastelands or the hateful characters, the costumes or sheer humanity that drives the cast through, this film lays waste to over scripted wordplay in favour of a slow build up to a very tense final chapter. If THE DESCENT was directed by CLINT EASTWOOD, this would be the end result. One scene in particular will be treasured as the most cringe worthy moment of 2016, and surprisingly, even with the surreal unfolding of events, the film never over plays the horror so much as to forget this is a western at heart, just don't forget to take a sick bag.

P.S. Look out for a short lived cameo by horror icon Sid Haig.

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