(USA • S. Craig Zahler • 2015)
‘Bone Tomahawk’ is the directorial debut of American novelist S. Craig Zahler, based on his story, and for which he co-wrote the soundtrack too. The premise of the film is a familiar one: a Western featuring a party thrown together to rescue unfortunates from a band of bloodthirsty Injuns. The twist is the cannibalistic nature of those Natives, who prove themselves both cunning and ferocious warriors…
So, the 1890s; two brigands loot and kill their way across the desert, before stumbling onto a Native burial ground…days later, an apparent drifter new to the town of Bright Hope is locked up by Sheriff Kurt. An abduction follows, whereby a local Native American links evidence from the scene to a shunned clan, dwelling several days away, in the ‘Valley of the Starving Men’. Four men head out in a gruelling search for this legendary clan and their captives…
Made for $1,800,000, and filmed at the Paramount Ranch in just three weeks, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ makes ingenious use of its desert setting, a decision which allowed for the cost of Sheriff Kurt Russell (‘Escape From New York’, and the rest). Adding weight are co-stars Patrick Wilson (excellent in ‘Hard Candy’), and Matthew Fox (TV’s ‘Lost’ and ‘Party of Five’), and support from David Arquette (‘Scream’, ‘Eight Legged Freaks’), Sid Haig (veteran of the US exploitation and B-movie scene), and Sean Young (‘Blade Runner’).
The films slow, almost real-time, pacing, and ‘flat’ cinematography (by Benji Bakshi) results in an immersive, almost documentary feel. This, combined with the effective use of a limited palette of locations, and the sparing yet savage application of violence and gore, produces an atmospheric piece, all the more impressive for being made from the first draft of Zahler’s script (allegedly). Winning the Best Direction Award at 2015’s Sitges Film Festival, and nominated for several 2016 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards 1, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is a welcome jewel in the slurry of modern horror.
- Best Actor: Kurt Russell | Best Supporting Actor: Richard Jenkins | Best Makeup/Creature FX: Hugo Villasenor ↩