Movie Review: Bone Tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk is a well-made but ultimately cliched and predictable straight-to-video horror western flick.

When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt, sets out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy.

This movie has an 87% score in RT and generally favorable reviews in Metacritic. I’m saying it now before you read any further that I have a vastly different opinion.

In fairness, the technicals behind Bone Tomahawk is well done for a straight to video feature.

The acting is good and the cast is committed in playing their B-movie roles.

The film direction is also good with nice tracking shots. The production design, albeit generic, provides enough set pieces to stage a convincing western flick. The costumes distinguish characters from each other. The practical effects are actually well done.

Everything else is generic B-movie fodder that it’s not sure what Bone Tomahawk is offering aside from gore and violence.

The talents of the cast is wasted on one dimensional stock characters. The main posse is composed of noble sheriff Franklin Hunt, the designated redeemable jerk John Brooder, the loyal somewhat comic-relief Chicory and the handicapped hero Arthur O’Dwyer. They’re all thrown into a tedious and cliched plot.

The story has a slow build-up padded with unnecessary scenes, illogical moments to throw in narrative hurdles and implausible scenarios to showcase the travails of a crippled cowboy. In one scene, Arthur is able to find the lair of cannibals who kidnapped his wife after limping across the American southwest aided by a trail of four unremarkable rocks left by his companions.

The movie quickly establishes that these savages are a different faction of Native Americans who are rejected by their own kind. They are actually troglodytes who employ the usual cannibal tricks of the trade – scalping and dismemberment. The movie only uses them as cannon fodder. The shoot ’em up action here is dull and dumb as their skills are useless against a crippled dude crawling on the ground armed with a revolver, inexhaustible stamina, and contrivances.

In the end, Bone Tomahawk finishes on its predictable course. It’s not clear what the director is gunning for in this movie. It’s not funny enough to be tongue-in-cheek. It’s heavy-handed to be a gritty and straightforward horror western. It takes itself too seriously to be a B-movie parody.

Bone Tomahawk is well made for a straight-to-video flick, but its storytelling offers exactly just that.

My Rating: 2/10


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