Follow by Email

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bone Tomahawk

The movie business is such a mystery. I was looking for a movie to watch last night to fit my mood--I wanted a comedy or a horror movie (some mood!). I ended up watching what could be called a horror-western that I had wanted to see for a while, Bone Tomahawk. It was terrific, and had all the elements of not only a commercial hit (lots of suspense, humorous dialogue, and gruesome violence) but was also well-made, with Oscar-worthy performances. But it hardly got a release, and ended up making under 300 grand. None of the major studios picked it up. Dummies.

Anyway, this 2015 film, written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, is a Western in the strictest sense, and it has no supernatural elements, but it plays like a horror movie. A common thief (David Arquette) disturbs the burial ground of an isolated band of Indians who also happen to be cannibals, and are called troglodytes because they live caves. In retribution, they come to town where Arquette has been jailed by the sheriff (Kurt Russell). They abduct Arquette, the deputy on duty, and a woman (Lili Simmons) who was tending to his bullet wound (Russell shot him in the leg).

So a posse of four--Russell, his "backup deputy" (Richard Jenkins), Simmon's husband, who has a broken leg but will not be deterred (Patrick Wilson) and a man who dresses like a dandy but is also an accomplished Indian-killer (Matthew Fox) set out to rescue them. Along the way of course they will encounter obstacles, and by the time they get there they find their adversaries like something out of a nightmare, who make eerie shrieks like banshees.

For much of this movie I was figuratively on the edge of my seat. The characters are great, especially Jenkins' addled old man, who has two great scenes, one about how does one read a book in a bathtub without getting the book wet, and another about the veracity of flea circuses. He has the film's best line when Fox kills two Mexicans who come on their camp: "Brooder just educated two Mexicans on the meaning of manifest destiny." Fox's character is also great, a man who wears a white suit, but is a steely-eyed killer. He says in a meeting of concerned citizens after the kidnapping, "I've killed more Indians than anyone here." An Indian man says, "That's an ugly boast." Fox replies, "It's not a boast, just a fact." I haven't seen Fox since he left the island.

The film is extremely violent, as a movie about cannibals might be expected to be, even when Zahler cuts away right before the horrible part (in a couple of scenes he does not). This gives it the horror flavoring, as the weapon of the title will be used effectively a couple of times.

Siskel and Ebert used to do shows on what they called "Buried Treasures," movies that are really good but didn't get a proper release. Bone Tomahawk is the epitome of a buried treasure.

No comments:

Post a Comment