Bone Tomahawk (2015) – S. Craig Zahler

Kurt Russell saddles up for another western, and though the basic premise of the story may sound familiar, where that narrative takes you may be a little too gruesome for some viewers, but it’s a helluva ride.

Russell is Hunt, the sheriff of Bright Hope, and he and a couple of locals are about to face a horrible trial when Purvis (David Arquette) stumbles into town after he and his partner, Buddy (Sid Haig) have a horrific encounter.

Something comes for Purvis in the middle of the night, taking with him, a deputy, and the woman administering medical aid to his wounds, Samantha (Lili Simmons).

Samantha’s husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson) is laid up with a broken leg, but he’s not going to let that stop him from joining Hunt, one of his deputies, Chicory (Richard Jenkins) and an arrogant shootist, Brooder (Matthew Fox) on their ride to save their stolen townsfolk, and find out what’s going on out west.

On the ride to a far canyon and cave, stories are shared about the nature of the people they are going to see, as well as rough encounters with people and animals along the way, all while Arthur struggles to sit a horse and keep up with his less infirmed companions.

The story moves along rapidly, and the dialogue crackles, Russell is wonderfully at ease as the sheriff and continues to prove how incredibly watchable he is. But when they reach their destination, things take a bloody and violent turn, and there’s one sequence, and if you’ve seen it, you know of what I speak, when you are just stunned and shocked by what you just saw.

A fantastic film, jarring in its outbreaks of sudden violence, and I absolutely delighted in seeing Richard Jenkins, a wonderful character actor, paired up with the likes of Russell. And I won’t lie, I was a huge fan of Simmons on Banshee, so to have her pop up in this, I was very happy to see her.

Apparently, the film was shot in twenty-one days, which sounds rushed, but the film looks great. Would there be some shots I would change or re-frame? Sure, but you can say that about most people’s work, armchair directing is easy for those of us who aren’t actually doing it. But overall, I found this to be a wonderful riff on the familiar Western territory with a dark, bloody, and oh-so-violent edge.

In fact, as soon as I had heard the writer/director had also written a number of novels with one called Wraiths of the Broken Land among them, I put my library card to work.

Check this one out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about THAT scene, which strikes hard and fast and leaves you as shocked as it does the characters.


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