Bone Tomahawk

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Bone Tomahawk
Bone Tomahawk Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by
  • Jack Heller
  • Dallas Sonnier
Written by S. Craig Zahler
Starring
Music by
  • Jeff Herriott
  • S. Craig Zahler
Cinematography Benji Bakshi
Edited by
Production
company
Caliber Media Company
Distributed by RLJ Entertainment
Release date
  • September 25, 2015 (2015-09-25) (Fantastic Fest)
  • October 23, 2015 (2015-10-23) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.8 million[2]
Box office $232,813[3]

Bone Tomahawk is a 2015 American horror western film directed, written and co-scored by S. Craig Zahler, and stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, and Sean Young. The film is produced by Jack Heller and Dallas Sonnier. The film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015[4] and was given a limited release on October 23, 2015, by RLJ Entertainment.

Plot[edit]

In the 1890s, two drifters, Purvis (David Arquette) and Buddy (Sid Haig), are making a living robbing and killing travelers. Spooked by the sound of approaching horses, they hide in the hills and encounter a Native American burial site. Buddy is killed by an arrow, and Purvis escapes.

Eleven days later, Purvis arrives in the small town of Bright Hope and buries his stolen belongings. Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the town's backup deputy, spots him and reports to Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell). At the town's saloon, Hunt confronts Purvis. When asked his name, Purvis hesitates before giving the name "Buddy" in an attempt to hide his identity. Sheriff Hunt shoots Purvis in the leg when he tries to escape. Hunt sends John Brooder (Matthew Fox), a local educated man and known womanizer who witnesses the shooting, to fetch the town's doctor. Meanwhile, foreman Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) rests at home with a broken leg. His wife Samantha (Lili Simmons), the doctor's assistant, tends to his wound. As the doctor is drunk, Brooder calls Samantha and escorts her to the jail to treat Purvis's wound. Leaving Samantha with Purvis and his deputy Nick, Hunt and the others return home. That night, at a stable house, a stable boy is murdered by unseen attackers.

The murder is reported to Hunt, who investigates the scene and finds the horses missing. The jail is empty and only an arrow is left behind. Hunt calls a local Native American man to examine the arrow, and informs Arthur of the news. At the saloon, the Native American man links the arrow to a troglodyte clan. He tells Hunt of the clan's dwelling place, "Valley of the Starving Men", and warns him that they are a group of cannibalistic savages. Certain that Samantha, Nick and Purvis had been captured by them, Hunt prepares to go after them with Arthur. Chicory and Brooder volunteer to accompany them.

Days into their ride, two strangers stumble across their camp. Fearing they are scouts for a raid, Brooder kills them and they set up a cold camp elsewhere to avoid being attacked. During the night, a group of raiders ambush them, injure Brooder's horse and steal the rest. Brooder, wounded by an attacker, regretfully puts down his horse. After a day of walking, a fight breaks out between Brooder and Arthur, exacerbating Arthur's broken leg. Chicory sets his leg and leaves him behind to recover, while he, Hunt, and Brooder move on.

At the valley, the three men are injured by a volley of arrows. After killing two attackers, Hunt and Chicory retreat, leaving Brooder, who is seriously injured and demands to be left behind. Brooder kills one attacker before being killed himself. The attackers capture Hunt and Chicory, and imprison them in their cave. The men find Samantha, and an injured Nick, imprisoned in a nearby cage. They witness Nick removed from his cell, stripped, brutally scalped, and bisected alive, then consumed. Samantha estimates the number of hostile cannibals to be around twelve (reduced to nine earlier by Hunt's posse).

Hunt realizes he has some opium tincture he confiscated from Arthur earlier to prevent him from overusing it. They lure several tribesmen to drink it, however only one drinks a fatal dose, and only one becomes unconscious. Meanwhile, Arthur wakes up, follows the men's trail and discovers the valley. He kills two tribesmen and notices an object embedded in their windpipes. After cutting one out, he realizes it is like a whistle. He blows on it, luring another tribesman close, then kills him.

In the cave, realizing two of their men were poisoned, the leader grows angry. He and another tribesman pull Hunt from his cell, cut open his abdomen and shove the hot opium flask into the wound. The leader then takes Hunt's rifle and shoots him in the arm and abdomen. Arthur arrives and kills one of the tribesmen, while Hunt kills the leader with one of the tribe's bone tomahawks. Arthur frees Samantha and Chicory, while a mortally wounded Hunt stays behind with his rifle. He prepares to kill the surviving cannibals when they return, to prevent them from terrorizing Bright Hope. As the three leave the cave, they see two pregnant females, who are blinded and have all their limbs amputated.

On their journey out, Arthur blows the tribesman's whistle, and with no response they continue to exit. At a distance from the cave, they hear three gunshots, implying that Sheriff Hunt had killed the remaining males of the tribe. Chicory acknowledges the gunshots with a half-hearted smile. Tired, hurt, and with few supplies, the three begin the journey towards home.

Cast[edit]

Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins and Matthew Fox at 2015 Fantastic Fest

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On October 30, 2012, S. Craig Zahler was set to make his directorial debut with a horror western film from his own script, with the film starring Kurt Russell and Jennifer Carpenter.[5]

Casting[edit]

On September 24, 2014, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox joined the cast of the film to star along with Russell and Jenkins; Wilson would play Arthur O'Dwyer, a cowboy, while Fox would play the role of John Brooder.[6] On September 29, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, Kathryn Morris and Evan Jonigkeit joined the film; Simmons replaced Carpenter to play female lead Samantha O'Dwyer, the de facto doctor and wife of Arthur O'Dwyer, Arquette and Haig would play brigands, Morris would play the wife of Sheriff Hunt, while Jonigkeit was set to play a young deputy sheriff.[7] The other ensemble cast added by the director includes Sean Young, Geno Segers, Fred Melamed, James Tolkan, Raw Leiba, Jamie Hector, Jamison Newlander, Michael Paré, Zahn McClarnon, David Midthunder, Jay Tavare, Gray Wolf Herrera, Robert Allen Mukes, and Brandon Molale.[8] On October 2, Dave Halls was set as the first assistant director for the film.[9]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on October 6, 2014, in Malibu, California, where it was filmed for 21 days at the Paramount Ranch.[10]

Release[edit]

In August 2015, RLJ Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film.[11] The film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015.[4] On October 3, 2015, it screened at the Charlotte Film Festival.[12] It was then screened at the London Film Festival on October 10, 2015,[13] before it was released in a limited release on October 23, 2015.[14]

Reception[edit]

Bone Tomahawk received critical acclaim by critics and at festivals for its acting (particularly for Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins and Matthew Fox), realism, Zahler's direction, and the dialogue of his screenplay. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 90% of critics gave the film a "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 71 reviews with an average score of 7.1/10, with the site's consensus stating, "Bone Tomahawk's peculiar genre blend won't be for everyone, but its gripping performances and a slow-burning story should satisfy those in search of something different."[15] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 72 (out of 100) based on 17 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable".[16]

Accolades[edit]

Awards and nominations
Association Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards March 13, 2016 Best Actor Kurt Russell Won [17][18]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Best Makeup/Creature FX Hugo Villasenor Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 27, 2016 Best Screenplay S. Craig Zahler Nominated [19]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards December 14, 2015 Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated [20]
Original Vision Award Nominated
Phoenix Critics Circle December 16, 2015 Best Horror Film Nominated [21]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Saturn Awards June 22, 2016 Best Independent Film Nominated [22]
Sitges Film Festival October 17, 2015 Best Direction Award S. Craig Zahler Won [23][24]
José Luis Guarner Prize Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BONE TOMAHAWK (18)". British Board of Film Classification. October 7, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2016. 
  2. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/15/craig-zahler-on-bone-tomahawk
  3. ^ Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ a b "BONE TOMAHAWK - Fantastic Fest". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff (30 October 2012). "S. Craig Zahler to direct ‘Bone Tomahawk’". variety.com. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Yamato, Jen (September 24, 2014). "Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox Join Kurt Russell Western ‘Bone Tomahawk’". deadline.com. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Bone Tomahawk Adds Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig and More". comingsoon.net. September 29, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ Sneider, Jeff (September 29, 2014). "‘True Detective,’ ‘Girls’ Actors Join Kurt Russell Western ‘Bone Tomahawk’". thewrap.com. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ Caranicas, Peter (October 2, 2014). "Below the Line Bookings". variety.com. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  10. ^ Christine. "‘Bone Tomahawk’, starring Kurt Russell, filming underway at Paramount Ranch". onlocationvacations.com. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ "RLJ Entertainment Acquires Kurt Russell Western 'Bone Tomahawk'". TheWrap. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Kathryn Morris UK". kathryn-morris.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "The 59th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® announces full 2015 programme". British Film Institute. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "'Bone Tomahawk' director explains how he got Kurt Russell back on a horse — exclusive poster". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Bone Tomahawk". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Bone Tomahawk". Metacritic. Retrieved October 25, 2015. 
  17. ^ White, Scott Everett (January 14, 2016). "Kurt Russell receives Fangoria awards nomination for Bone Tomahawk". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  18. ^ Fangoria Staff (January 14, 2016). "The 2016 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Winners and Full Results!". Fangoria. Retrieved January 20, 2016. 
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (November 24, 2015). "‘Carol,’ ‘Spotlight,’ ‘Beasts of No Nation’ Lead Spirit Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2015. 
  20. ^ Indiana Film Journalists Association Editors (December 14, 2015). "Indiana Film Journalists Association Announces 2015 Film Awards". Indiana Film Journalists Association. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 
  21. ^ Hankins, Brent (December 16, 2015). "Phoenix Critics Circle Announces 2015 Award Winners". Nerd Repository. Retrieved December 16, 2015. 
  22. ^ "The 42nd Annual Saturn Awards nominations are announced for 2016!". Saturn Awards. February 24, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016. 
  23. ^ Mayorga, Emilio (October 17, 2015). "‘Invitation’ Tops Sitges". Variety. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  24. ^ Sitges Film Festival Editors (October 17, 2015). "'The Invitation' is proclaimed winner of Sitges 2015". Sitges Film Festival. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 

External links[edit]