The fifth film to be reviewed from the 59th London Film Festival is S. Craig Zahler’s western-horror Bone Tomahawk. This is Zahler’s first feature as a director and his second as writer following his 2011 effort The Incident.
To call this film a western-horror is perhaps a little exaggerated – I say this because I don’t want people turning away from it because it ‘might be scary’. It’s bloody and violent but not overly frightening – a gory thriller would be the genre I’d pick.
Bone Tomahawk was screened in front of packed audience, expecting big things – but did it deliver?
After a man's wife is kidnapped, four men (Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox and Richard Jenkins) set out in the Wild West to rescue a group of captives from cannibalistic cave dwellers.
This film has a classic ‘Quentin Tarantino feel’. Bone Tomahawk feels like it has dropped off the Django Unchained style of filmmaking conveyor belt - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Bone Tomahawk is so much more than just a spaghetti-style gory flick. The cinematography is stunning with sweeping desert landscapes and rousing, vintage buildings with great costumes including Kurt Russell’s sheriff outfit.
The beauty of this film comes from the dysfunctional relationships between the four protagonists with their witty and blunt dialogue. It’s refreshing, humorous and rare. Their performances have the perfect mixture of ‘lads on a trip’ comedy coupled with the fear of the unknown cave-dwellers attacking them.
Bone Tomahawk manages to work out what the best components are from the thriller, horror and western genres to create a sophisticated feature that will transfix audiences with comedy, violence and also the mystery of who and why.
Zahler has penned a finessed screenplay that is delivered effectively. It has a slow-burning plot for the first act but quickly switches up a gear when the narrative picks up. The audience is taken for a ride as the plot unravels. It’s never boring and you get everything you want from it. The tension, the relief, the wincing – everything.
With spectacular visuals and measured acting performances, Bone Tomahawk deservedly nestles itself into a niche band of horror-westerns. It leaves you exhausted, but hugely satisfied.
Cineroom's Rating: 4 Stars
Bone Tomahawk will be released 11th December nationwide. Certificate 18.