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Bone Tomahawk


Stars: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, Kathryn Morris, Sid Haig, David Arquette, Fred Melamed, Sean Young, Michael Pare, Geno Segers

Director: S. Craig Zahler

After spending far too long watching The Hateful Eight, you might have thought Quentin Tarantino had cruelly exhausted not only cinemagoers but also the theme of How The West Was Nasty!


Eat you heart out, Tarantino! Or, perhaps, simply console yourself with a meal of liver with some fava beans.

First-time feature film director S. Craig Zahler’s wonderfully nasty, eminently enjoyable blend of suspenseful frontier Western and gross-out shocker, which kicks off with a grisly shocker throat cutting, stars The Hateful Eight’s Kurt Russell as sheriff of the small frontier town of Bright Hope - population 768 – most of whose men have galloped off on a cattle drive.

So, when bizarre “troglodyte” Indians, summed up as “a spoiled bloodline of inbred animals who rape and eat their own mothers” begin snatching locals and killing them, it’s up to Russell along with crippled old deputy Richard Jenkins, ranch foreman Patrick Wilson and naive deputy Evan Jonigkeit to ride off to find out what’s happening…

The climactic confrontation between the wild Westerners and even wilder murderous mulattos make Sam Raimi and company at their most gory seem positively pallid.

If you’re simply looking for sadistic scenes and full-frontal, blood-spouting nastiness, then filmmakers such as Raimi, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and their anything-and-everything-goes shockfilm ilk provide just about all the nastiness the most dogged Frightfest addict could hope for.

Zahler’s film is undoubtedly stomach-churningly nasty and guaranteed to scare many moviegoers shirtless but his approach to his off-beat story is not simply to be as gross as he can get away with without receiving an ‘R’ rating.

Bone Tomahawk is a compelling and clever blend of two standard cinematic genres, smartly spiced with black humour and a film that succeeds very well as both.

And the whining noise that I occasionally thought I could hear? Probably Walt Disney spinning in his grave because of Russell's metamorphosis from clean as a whistle Disney teen to his character here as tough and supremely cynical Sheriff Hunt.

Alan Frank

USA/UK 2016. UK Distributor: The Works UK Distribution Ltd.. Colour.
132 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 27 Feb 2016