Bone Tomahawk is a 2015 American western horror film directed, written and co-scored by S. Craig Zahler in his directorial debut, and stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, David Arquette and Sid Haig. Produced by Jack Heller and Dallas Sonnier, the film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015 and was given a limited release on October 23, 2015, by RLJ Entertainment.
I dunno if I would actually label this movie as horror. It’s restricted to us a couple of scenes of tension or horrific acts. Set in the 1890s two robbers Purvis and Buddy, are making a living robbing and killing travelers. Spooked by the sound of approaching horses, they hide in the hills and encounter a Native American burial site. Buddy is killed by an arrow, and Purvis escapes. He hides his stuff in the next town and goes to the bar. His appearance arouses the suspicions of the backup deputy sherrif Chicory, who alerts the town’s sheriff Franklin Hunt and the two approach Purvis and ask him about the things he hid. Sheriff Hunt shoots Purvis in the leg when he tries to escape. Hunt sends John Brooder, a local educated man and known womanizer who witnesses the shooting, to fetch the town’s doctor.
Town foreman Arthur O’Dwyer is resting his broken leg at home with his wife, nurse Samantha who is called to help Purvis as the doctor is passed out drunk. She stays back as Purvis has a bad fever. At night an unseen person or persons kills a stable boy and steals horses. They also abduct Samantha, deputy Nick and Purvis offscreen. Hunt thinks they could have been natives and calls a local resident who is a native. He informs them that the murder of the stable boy and the abduction seems to be the work of a troglodyte clan. He tells Hunt of the clan’s dwelling place, “Valley of the Starving Men”, and warns him that they are a group of cannibalistic savages. Hunt goes after them with Chicory and Brooder, who volunteers, and Arthur who despite his injury won’t stay behind.
On their way to the valley, two strangers stumble across their camp. Fearing they are scouts for a raid, Brooder kills them and they set up a cold camp elsewhere to avoid being attacked. During the night, a group of raiders ambushes them, injure Brooder’s horse and steal the rest. After a day of walking, a fight breaks out between Brooder and Arthur, exacerbating Arthur’s broken leg. Chicory sets his leg and leaves him behind to recover, while he, Hunt, and Brooder move on. At the valley arrows are shot at the three men and Brooder is injured badly but they kill two attackers. Brooder makes them leave and takes out 3 more before being killed himself. The attackers capture Hunt and Chicory and imprison them in their cave. The men find Samantha, and an injured Nick, imprisoned in a nearby cage.
They inform Hunt that the tribesmen have already killed and eaten Purvis. They witness Nick removed from his cell, stripped, brutally scalped, and bisected alive, then consumed in a truly brutal scene. Samantha estimates the number of hostile cannibals to be around twelve (reduced to nine earlier by Hunt’s posse). Hunt uses some opium tincture in a flask and lure the troglodytes to drink it. only one drinks a fatal dose, and only one becomes unconscious. Meanwhile, Arthur wakes up, follows the men’s trail and discovers the valley. He kills two tribesmen and notices an object embedded in their windpipes. After cutting one out, he realizes it is like a whistle. He blows on it, luring another tribesman close, then kills him.
The leader, with wild boar tusks, gets angry and with another of his men pull Hunt outta his cell and cut him in the abdomen. He then takes Hunt’s rifle and shoots him in the arm and abdomen. Arthur arrives and kills one of the tribesmen, while Hunt kills the leader with one of the tribe’s bone tomahawks. Arthur frees Samantha and Chicory, while a mortally wounded Hunt stays behind with his rifle. He prepares to kill the surviving cannibals when they return, to prevent them from terrorizing Bright Hope. As the three leave the cave, they see two pregnant females, who are blinded and have all their limbs amputated. After a bit they hear three gun shots and they smile knowing that Hunt has killed the remaining 3 and they make their way home.
It was quite a bit dull and dragging. I feel that the movie should have been shorter as there were long periods of little activity and just walking or talking. The movie lacks in excitement or even intrigue. When the team get captured though things begin to pick up. 6 outta 10!