Westerns have been around on the big screen for decades and has always been one of the most popular genres in cinema history, but in the last decades, it’s been a dying art. Barring a few exceptions being ‘Unforgiven’ & ‘Django Unchained’, the western genre has been lacklustre and in need of some fresh air. Queue the lights for ‘Bone Tomahawk’, the new western with an unexpected twist. Not only is this a western, but let’s throw in some cannibals and we have a completely different film to add to the genre; but is it worthy of being up there with the greats?
‘Bone Tomahawk’ follows the story of a man’s wife that is abducted from the local town, and four men Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), Chicory (Richard Jenkins), John (Matthew Fox) and the husband of the missing wife, Arthur (Patrick Wilson) go on a mission to find her, that lead to horrifying consequences. Directed by first timer S. Craig Zahler, you can already see the mass potential of being behind the camera by spotting some great shots in the film and really capture the spirit of western filmmaking and it also helps that he is originally a novelist. Having written the script for the film, the character development is very good but the pacing of the film is very unbalanced. The main focus of the film should be the battle and horrifying moments that these men encounter with the wild cannibals in the hills of the desert. Instead of focusing on the most exciting part of the movie, we are treated to around 75% of the film revolving in walking and talking nonsense that does not entertain, or have any relevance to the story. The potential is huge for this rare entry to a possibly exciting new genre of western horror, but it never seems to hit the heights of the expectations that I assumed.
Not only is it a pacing issue for ‘Bone Tomahawk’ it’s the lengthy running time that makes it feel a million times longer than it should be. Once the action starts kicking off, the ending is very abrupt and is over before you’ve grabbed your popcorn. There are moments of pure genius and celebrate the good things about horror by shocking and impressing in its attempts but those moments were very far and few between. I will applaud the effort by the filmmaker and the cast, but unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the expectations and is a bit of a disappointment. It’s actually fairly annoying knowing the potential of the film and to see a lot of material go to waste. Kurt Russell provides a good performance as the sheriff but is surrounded by an odd choice of a supporting cast that all provide an average performance that digs the hole of averageness into this picture.
The moments of brilliance were entertaining and gross, but for me, it wasn’t worth the wait. Potential galore, an interesting premise, but it falls short; it’s an average 3 out of 5 stars.