Sunday, October 25, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Bone Tomahawk

2015, S. Craig Zahler -- download

Yeah, Bone Tomahawk is more thriller than horror but it pushed all the buttons that a good horror movie should --- it elicited fear, tension, sympathy and gut churning revulsion at events taking place. It is a cowboy movie set near the end of the cowboy era, very close to the turn of the century. Life is more civilized than we expect from the Old West but not entirely so. But damn does Kurt Russel's Sheriff Hunt wear a tie nicely. And the moustache from The Hateful Eight.

Starting this one over; lost the thread of what I was saying. Part of writing these in blog post format, and not in any formal 'review' style is not being attached to any rules of what I am saying. But sometimes I have more to say than a simple recap; I want to actually have something to say.

The centre of this movie is a walk, a long, stressful, tension filled walk. A focus character has a broken leg that, frankly, needs sitting down. This is not the usual guts n grit character who walks off a bullet wound; well he is, but the point is that he shouldn't. Farmer O'Dwyer broke his leg falling off the roof and has what is technically called an open fracture, i.e. the bone came out. He really shouldn't be heading off as part of posse, but his wife has been taken. He's getting her back.

Taken by white painted, howling like beasts from hell, cannibalistic indians whom The Professor, the educated native in town, calls Troglodytes. David Arquette, playing his usual wrinkly nosed scuzzy character, led them to this town when he and his bushwhacking partner blundered into their burial grounds. Probably not burial grounds but that is the trope term for sacred lands marked by skulls and standing stones. The trogs attacked town to take back Arquette and took O'Dwyer's wife (town doctor) and the deputy as well. Sheriff Hunt, O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson) and gentleman gunfighter John Brooder (Matthew Fox) head out, along with unrecognizable Richard Jenkins as Chicory, the old coot.

And they head west, into the hills, at first by horse, then through mischance, on foot. Horseback is bad enough for O'Dwyer but on foot is nigh impossible. Sweating, gritting teeth and sucking it up is what he does. And every rest, he collapses into exhaustion giving us time to listen to these cowboys have some of the best dialogue I heard all season. This may not be Tarantino but damn, its decent writing.

When O'Dwyer rebreaks his leg, and has to be left behind, I was on my last frayed nerve. Maybe it was the weeks of tense movies and intentional on edge feelings, or maybe its just the usual from work, but I was tense. And we haven't even met the cannibals yet. Yet, as his friends wander into the forsaken land to take on the trogs, he crawls after them.

The encounter with the trogs, the expected climax to the movie is just horrid. These are not just psychopathic cannibalistic indians gone wrong. They are all about the terror they cause before killing and eating their prey. They have modified their bodies with claws and horns and bones in their throats that allow for hellbeast howls. And titular bone tomahawk is used for horrific purposes. Of course, O'Dwyer rescues his wife but not without cost.

When the movie ended, we both let out a sigh of relief. It was intense. And I hope we get to see more movies with Kurt Russel's moustache.