A group of frontier dwellers come into contact with cannibalistic troglodytes after three people are kidnapped by an ancient Indian tribe. Bone Tomahawk is not your average western.
The film starts off with murder and robbery, and an all too brief turn from Sid Haig, who with David Arquette are outlaws. They stumble onto a sacred Indian burial ground and while Haig meets his demise, Arquette manages to escape.
Trespassing on sacred burial grounds is a big deal and this particular tribe of Indians track Arquette’s character to a small town. The tribe find and kidnap him along with two other characters from the town jail.
The Sheriff played by a magnificently mustachioed Kurt Russell leads the rescue party and ist’s a low key role that Russell plays with ease. Matthew Fox and Patrick Wilson also put in a good performances but it’s Richard Jenkins who steals the show as the deputy Sheriff and doctor who accompanies the men to bring back the captured three.
The first half of Bone Tomahawk is a character piece, we meet these four men and journey with them across the dusty plains and we learn about them in different ways. There’s tension, drama, mystery and then the second half of the film descends into horror when the men finally find the caves where these troglodytes live. Bone Tomahawk is a slow burn but well worth watching, you get to know the characters pretty well by the half way mark and the tonal shift in genre works all the better for the first hour’s groundwork.
For all the dust and blood Bone Tomahawk is surprisingly funny, this is not a comedy by any means but it will make you laugh. The film also touches on racism in a way I found refreshing. Characters question people’s attitudes and behaviour towards the Indians and while for Matthew Fox’s character is given a reason for his hatred of Indians, the other characters find his boasts of how many Indians he’s killed, distasteful.
The script is tight, I loved the bleached sepia tone of the film and the cinematography. All in all a solid and unusual take on a western that will make you wince more than once!
Bone Tomahawk is available on VOD via iTunes, Amazon.