“Bone Tomahawk,” releasing to Blu-ray on Dec. 29, isn’t your typical western film. Sure, it has the ingredients for one such as the 1890s setting, the wardrobe, and some gunfights. It even has Kurt Russell, who was in some “Gunsmoke” episodes; “Tombstone”; and can also be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s latest, “The Hateful Eight.”
So what sets “Bone Tomahawk” apart from other westerns? Well, S. Craig Zahler – making his directorial debut here – throws the element of horror into the mix. No, it’s not a slasher like “Halloween” or a monster movie like “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The main antagonists of “Bone Tomahawk” are cannibalistic cave dwellers referred to as “Troglodytes.” They’re a savage bunch, and they will terrify you when the minute they appear onscreen.
These Troglodytes capture the town’s doctor (Lili Simmons), and four men set out to get her back. They are the town’s sheriff (Kurt Russell), his deputy (Richard Jenkins), a gunslinger (Matthew Fox), and the doctor’s crippled husband (Patrick Wilson). And though they know the story of the Troglodytes, they aren’t prepared for what they about to face.
“Bone Tomahawk” could have easily turned into a B-movie that focuses more on gore and camp than it does story and characters. But it doesn’t; it gives the viewer intriguing characters, an exciting story, and some brilliant and humorous dialogue. It does get a little sluggish at times during its 132-minute runtime. But, for being an independent project with a solid cast of actors that all do well (Jenkins, especially), “Bone Tomahawk” comes as a major surprise from a first-time director, and it’s a shame the buzz for this film has been so minimal.
It’s not for those with a weak stomach. But if you can make it through some brutal kills, this is one worth checking out. Fans of both the horror genre and the western genre can find something to appreciate here.
“Bone Tomahawk” is being released on a one-disc Blu-ray set with a slipcover that has the title of the film raised, and the design is defined a little more than the actual Blu-ray cover. The Blu-ray comes with only a few special features. In addition to the trailer, one feature is a poster gallery that shows the film’s two theatrical posters, one standard and one designed as a tribute to the westerns of the 50s and 60s, and individual character one-sheets.
Before getting acquired by RLJ/Image Entertainment for VOD distribution, “Bone Tomahawk” premiered at Fantastic Fest. The special features shows the Q&A with Zahler and several cast members that followed the film’s premiere.
There is only one deleted scene on the Blu-ray, and it actually serves as sort of an epilogue to the characters that survived after the film’s final moments. While it’s nice that the viewer gets a glimpse at what happens to them, it’s better that Zahler ended the film without this final scene.
In total, there are only about 40 minutes worth of special features on the “Bone Tomahawk” Blu-ray. But the film itself is a solid one, worthy of adding to your collection, and the audio and video aspects give it an excellent high-definition treatment.
Special features: B