Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Bone Tomahawk (2015)

A pair of outlaws stumble into the territory of a degenerate race of 'troglodyte' savages.  One of them quickly ends up dead, but the other manages to flee.  Unfortunately for him - and for those he meets - he disturbs the tribe's burial grounds in the process.  Their warriors thus track him all the way to the small town of Bright Hope, where they abduct him and two others and take the trio back to their isolated lair.

A local native is able to tell the sheriff roughly where this lair might be.  He also shares the unfortunate news that the troglodytes are cannibals, so a rescue mission is a matter of urgency.  The sheriff puts together a small posse, including the husband of one of the missing townsfolk, and the four men set out in pursuit of the savages.  Unfortunately, they may find themselves quickly switching from the hunters to the hunted in this particular case ...

Let's get the warnings out of the way first: there are some very confronting images of violence in Bone Tomahawk.  I saw it with friends, and one of them was made very uncomfortable by a particular scene.  You'll know it when you see it, I think.

However, most of those confronting moments come in the last act, and the majority of the film is a much lower-key affair; more of a character study in a lot of ways, with plenty of scenes that allow us to see characters interacting with each other and establishing their relationships.  This is all very deftly handled and may be one of my favourite elements of the film.  In just a few short scenes between the husband and wife before she is abducted, the movie establishes that a strong and sincere bond of love connects the two of them.  This makes the hardship he undergoes to attempt her rescue feel much more plausible and real.  The friendship between the Sheriff and his 'back up deputy' is also very nicely drawn.

If you can handle the grisly parts, I think Bone Tomahawk is worth a look.

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