Bone Tomahawk ★★★★½

"That's the hardest thing about frontier life. Not the Indians, or the elements. But the idiots."

Word of advice: if you come across an elaborate bone-filled burial ground in the middle of nowhere, it's best not to desecrate that fucking thing.

When troglodyte cannibals kidnap Samantha O'Dwyer from the town of Bright Hope, Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt fucking Russell) rounds up a posse that includes his bumbling backup deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins; LET ME IN), a crippled Mr. O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson; THE CONJURING) and preening badass John Brooder (Matthew Fox; LOST) to head off into the "...outskirts of civilization..." and rescue the damsel from the cannibal savages.

Bone Tomahawk is one of those genre-bending films that I love, twisting from standard western to men-on-a-mission movie to out-and-out horror film over the course of its 2 hour run time without ever wavering in tone or feeling disjointed. The majority of the yarn is spent following our ensemble's journey from Bright Hope to the cave dwelling of the troglodytes, each of the four leads getting equal opportunity to shine along the way. Of special note are Jenkins, whose oafish comic relief character is given depth by his warm presence, and Fox, whose cocksure and callous gunslinger is revealed to be a man haunted by a past full of pain.

The long, lyrical middle section of the film serves to develop a strong bond between the men. They crack jokes, they tell stories (and listen), they're hardly contentious and they often rely on each other for help. We want our heroes to succeed. First time director S. Craig Zahler doesn't go for a grand, sweeping look to the film, instead often juxtaposing the leads against endless valleys and mountains that look ready to consume them. These seemingly insurmountable odds only help to humanize them further.

By the third act, I almost didn't want the blood to start flowing. But a reckoning was promised, and when the two groups finally clash, the violence is sickening in its abrupt brutality. One death toward the end of the flick is so god damn vile that I don't think I'll ever be able to unsee it. During the climax the movie forgoes its typical dry wit in favor of some gory sight gags (I've never seen a flask used like that before) but the humor never feels out of place; in fact, I'm almost a little disappointed the movie didn't go bigger and broader with its ending. Shit, if you've got dynamite, use it.

Oh, and I'm happy to report there's even a Spaghetti Western-style theme song during the end credits that recaps the entire plot of the film. I'm not kidding about this shit. "Four doomed men ride out," the song intones over and over. Four doomed men ride out...

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