Bone Tomahawk (***, 2015)

Bone Tomahawk (what a great title!) is a real genre mashup, horror and western – the likes of which you’ve probably not seen before. The action is light until the final third of the film or so, bu the tension that steadily mounts in the first two-thirds will have you jumping at bells jingling and other startling sounds. Seems a prisoner, a deputy, and the doctor charged with removing the bullet from the prisoner’s leg have all vanished over the course of the night. The sheriff (Kurt Russell) sets out to find the trio, aided by his backup to the deputy (Richard Jenkins), a learned man with a predilection for killing Indians (Matthew Fox), and the doctor’s husband (Patrick Wilson), who’s nursing a bad leg. The lone Indian in their tiny western town is pretty sure who did the kidnapping, based off an arrow found in the jail, and he’s of the opinion that it’s a group of cave-dwellers – troglodytes. As the sheriff and his posse search, tensions mount among them, and the leg of the doctor’s husband acts up time and time again. What they do find when they finally come upon the cave holding the captives and their intimidating captors isn’t quite the run-of-the-mill stuff you’d find in an old Western, and that’s where the action, terrifying and fleet but so satisfying, kicks in. Bone Tomahawk makes hay out of the long trek to find the trio, and the tribulations of life on the trail, particularly as the men run low on provisions, is expertly told and lends a true sense of realism to the proceedings. Aside from that mounting tension, the first half is pulled together wonderfully by Russell and by Jenkins as the addled backup tin star. Jenkins steals the movie.

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