Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||S. Craig Zahler|
|Written by||S. Craig Zahler|
Caliber Media Company
|Distributed by||RLJ Entertainment|
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 and was given a limited release on October 23, 2015, by RLJ Entertainment.
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.
- Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt
- Patrick Wilson as Arthur O'Dwyer
- Matthew Fox as John Brooder
- Richard Jenkins as Deputy "Chicory" Kory
- Lili Simmons as Samantha O'Dwyer
- David Arquette as Purvis
- Sid Haig as Buddy
- Geno Segers as Boar Tusks
- Fred Melamed as Clarence
- Kathryn Morris as Lorna Hunt
- Sean Young as Mrs. Porter
- Evan Jonigkeit as Deputy Nick
- Eddie Spears as Serrated Tomahawk
- James Tolkan as The Pianist
- Raw Leiba as Wolf Skull
- Michael Paré as Mr. Wallington
- Jamison Newlander as The Mayor
- Zahn McClarnon as The Professor
- Jay Tavare as Sharp Teeth
- Brandon Molale as Noseless Troglodyte
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. 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. 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. On October 2, Dave Halls was set as the first assistant director for the film.
In August 2015, RLJ Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film. The film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015. On October 3, 2015, it screened at the Charlotte Film Festival. It was then screened at the London Film Festival on October 10, 2015, before it was released in a limited release on October 23, 2015.
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." 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".
|Awards and nominations|
|Association||Date of ceremony||Category||Nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||March 13, 2016||Best Actor||Kurt Russell||Won|||
|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|||
|Best Supporting Actor||Richard Jenkins||Nominated|
|Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards||December 14, 2015||Best Supporting Actor||Richard Jenkins||Nominated|||
|Original Vision Award||Nominated|
|Phoenix Critics Circle||December 16, 2015||Best Horror Film||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actor||Richard Jenkins||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||June 22, 2016||Best Independent Film||Nominated|||
|Sitges Film Festival||October 17, 2015||Best Direction Award||S. Craig Zahler||Won|||
|José Luis Guarner Prize||Won|
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- Box Office Mojo
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- "The 42nd Annual Saturn Awards nominations are announced for 2016!". Saturn Awards. February 24, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
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