Friday, October 2, 2015

Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: BONE TOMAHAWK


Bone Tomahawk.
Director and Writer: S. Craig Zahler.
Actors: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons and Richard Jenkins.

Bone Tomahawk shows why we need more movies in the horror western genre. While not being a straight out horror movie, it features some of the most terrifying moments in recent memory.

This is a stylish and gripping movie that shows the brutality of the wild west. Featuring the awesome ensemble cast, the movie tells the story of this quartet of men, Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Russell), his deputy Chicory (Jenkins), John Brooder (Fox), and Arthur O'Dwyer (Wilson) all with their own baggage heading out into the wilderness to attempt to save a group of people including O'Dweyer's wife, Samantha (Simmons) from a cannibal tribe of Native Americans.

Impressively directed by first time filmmaker S. Graig Zahler, he makes some very peculiar and fascinating scene choices, quickly cutting away from the action to a bush or a mountain. This helps give the movie a very distant and cold feeling to it. Which is exactly what the characters experience. Despite the fact that they are out in the hot plains, this wilderness out there is cold and unflinching and merciful. It's a place where death is common as it is brutal.

A big part of the movie is actually spent with the main quartet and they really tie the whole film together. Matthew Fox steals the movie with his portrayal of Brooder whose very violent ways against people, especially Native Americans, is the source of a lot of trouble within the group. It doesn't help that he has a thing for Samantha.

Once O'Dwyer's leg is injured and he starts to slow down the party, there are some very serious conversation about what to do with him ranging from amputation to death. But O'Dwyer's not the type of man to give up and the movie goes from a rescue movie to one dealing with themes like willpower and perseverance against all odds.

And the odds here are some of the scariest cannibals you hope you never have to meet. They're designed in a way that could be criticized as being demonizing and vaguely racist -- at one point someone gets scalped -- but the tribe is meant to represent the harshness of the frontier life where nothing comes easy, and everyone is trying to kill you for just existing.

Speaking of the tribe, this movie features one of the top kills of the year and it caused quite the stir with the audience. But also the action sequences here are the types that are so chaotic and they're shot in a way that you never know what to expect, and it is fantastic.

Apart from Fox, the rest of the cast is doing a passable job but Kurt Russell's performance isn't anything new but Richard Jenkins disappears into Chicory so well it was hard to tell it was him for a long time.

Bone Tomahawk is an accomplished movie. There's very little fluff here and there, and despite the fact the characters are wandering for most of the movie, each scene feels vital. Having a cast with great chemistry helps as well as masterfully shot action sequences. Can't wait to see what Zahler does next.

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