Bone Tomahawk: Kurt Russell Owns This Gritty & Jarring Horror Western [Review]

by | Nov 12, 2015

From director  S. Craig Zahler comes the gritty western horror drama Bone Tomahawk, currently playing on VOD. The film stars Kurt Tussell, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig and Geno Segers. 

In the Old West, a sheriff (Kurt Russell), his deputy (Richard Jenkins), a gunslinger (Matthew Fox),and a cowboy (Patrick Wilson) embark on a mission to rescue three people from a savage group of cave dwellers.


There is a scene so violent, so unnervingly brutal and hard to watch near the end of Bone Tomahawk that I almost hesitate to recommend watching the film at all but it’s moments just like that which make it stand apart and ultimately one of the more interesting movies of 2015. So I guess – watch Bone Tomahawk, just know that this is not your typical western. Not even close.

After an interesting introduction featuring Sid Haig (The Devils Rejects is forever one of my favorites) and David Arquette which concludes in both violence and ultimately sets the dark and grim tone of the film, we are on our way. To what – I’m still not sure. Bone Tomahawk is about a group of cannibalistic natives that capture some townspeople so the sheriff (Kurt Russell), his dimwitted deputy (Richard Jenkins), a former soldier (Matthew Fox) and a husband in danger of being widowed (Patrick Wilson) set out to find the dangerous foes and rescue Lili Simmons. She’s that chick who happily gets naked in everything she does (Banshee).


Kurt Russell OWNS Bone Tomahawk. His leading performance is mesmerizing and I’m not even basing my entire decision due to his Hateful Eight moustache being fully in tact either. The way he delivers lines is so convincing that he really pulls the audience into that world and right up until the bitter end he’s giving it his all. Director S. Craig Zahler made this film quickly, went through a massive amount of trials and tribulations both personally (dealing with family members being murdered and all kinds of awful things) and yet he still managed to handle the reigns and make a tremendously intense and satisfying movie.

Bone Tomahawk is always a Western but when it begins to incorporate elements of horror is when it starts to really raise the bar of the genre. The violence is so realistic, so jarring and so uncomfortable to watch that even though some of the more slow moving segments of the film begin calling for action, when it comes — it never feels glorious –only traumatizing. Whether it’s those scenes in the cave near the end when Geno Segers (yes Chayton from Banshee is playing a giant cave dwelling cannibal) is violating that poor prisoner in ways I’ll never fucking forget, or it’s the struggle to stay alive while a dude is shoving his weapon down Kurt Russell’s throat, Bone Tomahawk does not hold back – ever.

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The film is not without it’s faults as it can drag at times but the performances and shocking moments (that poor son of a bitch in the cave my god……oh the cave scene holy shit never again) really set this western apart from the rest of the herd. Matthew Fox’ character is truly badass here as well and I loved the way he delivered that performance. Bone Tomahawk is gritty, and at times gross but it’s worth your time if you’re willing to embrace the horror because when it hits – my god it hits hard.

Rating: [star rating=”4″]