12 November 2015 | MattBirk
A Strong Western with the Brutality of a Horror Film
Bone Tomahawk is about a small group of cowboys who set out in search of a group of cannibals who have kidnapped some of their townspeople, including the wife of one of the rough riders. It may sound similar to a lot of other westerns in the sense that it's a rescue story, which is somewhat true in the beginning. The first half of the movie is a great character drama as it follows the group of four for a few day and nights as they travel to their destination. This is where some people might have a problem with the film and the pacing might become an issue. During this time, we get expanded knowledge about the men involved and I found it rather entertaining because the route to their destination is just as dangerous as the destination itself. Yes, the movie could have been trimmed down by about 10-12 minutes, but it wasn't too slow that I lost interest (like many others I have read did).
It is during this time where acting comes into play and, for the most part, it's all on point, especially Kurt Russell! To no surprise, he is the highlight of the movie and is no one to be trifled with. He gives a very gritty and convincing performance worthy of his filmography. As well as the three other gentlemen that ride along with him, they all hit their marks (even my boy Matthew Fox from LOST).
The only real problem outside of the pacing is Lili Simmons' awkwardly dull performance (mostly during her captivity). Normally I wouldn't point out such a small characters performance but it was seriously lacking. It could be because her character was poorly written for the type of situation she was in. For example, why was she so relaxed and showing barely any emotion in such a frightening situation? Yes she could have broken down mentally but that doesn't let her off the hook. Also her line delivery was highly questionable and her overall performance felt like dead weight.
But it is the final 45 minutes of the movie that will leave everyone talking. Bone Tomahawk explodes into the horror genre with its cannibalistic violence (is this the return of cannibalistic horror movies?). The action is swift, and I mean very swift, it really comes out of nowhere. And this was what I loved most about the movie, you know they are getting closer and closer to unprecedented evil but you aren't quite sure when or where they will strike. It's this trepidation that makes the final third of the movie so thrilling. They're clearly unprepared for the gauntlet that is waiting for them. I won't spoil anything but the movie really doesn't shy away from violence once they get to where they are going. Bone Tomahawk transcends from a slow moving western into a carnage fueled frenzy.