We’re going to be kind of spoiled for westerns this winter. We have The Hateful Eight, also starring Kurt Russell and The Revenant. Both of these movies look heavyweight. But the gauntlet has been thrown down by Bone Tomahawk, with its tiny $1.8 million budget. And it’s hard to see how Kurt Russell can outdo himself in The Hateful Eight. It’s easily one of the manliest movies of 2015 and up there with Fury Road with the movies I enjoyed most this year and one of the best westerns I’ve seen in years, it really delivered the goods.
This movie has a little bit of True Grit in it, with a strong touch of Eaters of the Dead/The 13th Warrior. After David Arquette inadvertantly provokes the wrath of cannibal cavemen, drawing them into Sheriff Kurt Russell’s small town, the beast-men kidnap Patrick Wilson’s wife, played by Lili Simmons in the dead of night. The varmants take Simmons out yonder and naturally Russell, sporting the epic beard of the ages, must pursue them and set matters right. Matthew Fox enters Doc Holliday mode as the suave killer who accompanies the party to ‘handle their business’.
This is a character driven film where dialogue is king and the conversations are brilliant and often hilarious, but not overtly intrusive, not enough to turn the film into a comedy. The strong cast chews on it, working off each other and putting in stellar performances – this is the kind of small VOD movie that big stars should star in. It’s the old school manliness that is best here, with writer/director S. Craig Zahler having a keen ear for idioms and sayings of the 1800s and the actors having an equally keen sense on how a man was expected to behave back then. Stoic, stone faced execution of varmants is handled with dry, matter of fact workmanship.
For most of the film you could forget that Bone Tomahawk is supposedly a horror movie, which I suppose is the one main fault, it doesn’t seem to know what genre it falls under from time to time. But then the finale of this unpredictable movie is a righteous episode of manly endurance and, to boot, legit horrifying and shockingly violent. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a western as good as this and I would say, probably, it’s the manliest movie of 2015.