Bone Tomahawk (2015) - Rotten Tomatoes

Bone Tomahawk (2015)



Critic Consensus: 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.

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Movie Info

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 is a gritty action-packed thriller chronicling a terrifying rescue mission in the Old West.

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Kurt Russell
as Sheriff Franklin Hunt
Lili Simmons
as Samantha O'Dwyer
Matthew Fox
as John Brooder
Patrick Wilson
as Arthur O'Dwyer
Evan Jonigkeit
as Deputy Nick
Fred Melamed
as Clarence
Sid Haig
as Buddy
Sean Young
as Mrs. Porter
Michael Paré
as Mr. Wallington
Kathryn Morris
as Lorna Hunt
James Tolkan
as Pianist
Zahn McClarnon
as The Professor
Michael Emery
as Redheaded Fellow
David Midthunder
as Misshapen Troglodyte
Raw Leiba
as Wolf Skull
Geno Segers
as Boar Tusks
Alex Meraz
as Eagle Skulls
Robert Mukes
as Sentinel
Brandon Molale
as Noseless Troglodyte
Eddie Spears
as Serrated Tomahawk
Jay Tavare
as Sharp Teeth
Benjamin "Blake" Woodruff
as Young Troglodyte
Mario Perez
as Mexican Man
Susie Castaneda
as Pregnant Troglodyte A
Marem Hassler
as Pregnant Troglodyte B
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Critic Reviews for Bone Tomahawk

All Critics (93) | Top Critics (17)

It is mostly just an excuse for the debut director, S Craig Zahler, to whip the rug out from under you, Tarantino-style.

February 18, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Cult status could beckon for this well-made, macabre and violent western-horror from cinematographer turned director S Craig Zahler.

February 18, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

You'll be watching - at least, I was - with your hand clamped over a mouth in various states of aghast-ness. But the film's bloodiest moments, in a real turn-up for the books, are also its saddest.

February 18, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

With this film the cowboy genre moves beyond modern and postmodern. You could call it postmillennial, post-apocalyptic, post-ironic.

February 18, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

A precariously balanced, genre-literate oddity with something to say.

February 18, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Equal parts charming, strange, goofy, unpredictable and genuinely horrifying.

February 15, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bone Tomahawk


After a bit of a shocker beginning the film gets comfortable in rather regular Western Territory for a while. The pace is slow, but the characters interesting enough and there are odd traces of grim humor here or there. None of that prepares for the gore fest of the showdown with some of the nastiest on screen deaths you've ever seen. You gotta appreciate someone trying something fresh here, even though that's certainly not for everyone. I had to chuckle a few times and my jaw dropped to the ground just as often. Gotta appreciate that.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


OK lets be completely brutally honest here, I only watched this because of one thing and one thing only, the main star is Kurt Russell. There is literally no other reason that I watched this movie because I generally have little interest in horror flicks, unless they are part comedies or from the 50's black and white era, or starring an actor/s I genuinely enjoy watching (like Russell). Unfortunately I can report early on that my fears were cemented with this movie, other than Russell and the films title there is nothing of interest here at all, in fact its completely nonsensical crap of the highest order. So the plot goes thusly. Set in the 1890's in the small western town of Bright Hope, USA, we are introduced to a small band of townsfolk, mainly from within the local saloon. Kurt Russell is the tough grisly Sheriff Hunt, then we have a dapper, smartly dressed womaniser named Brooder, a middle aged foreman sporting a broken leg named O'Dwyer, and local backup deputy old man Chicory. During the course of the night O'Dwyer's wife and deputy Nick are watching over a suspicious character that had rolled into town and was shot in the leg by Hunt whilst trying to avoid questioning. The next day all three are gone and a local boy has been murdered, the only bit of evidence left is an arrow. So after consulting the local indian and discovering the offenders are a tribe of crazy wild cannibalistic people, Hunt, O'Dwyer, Chicory and Brooder march off to rescue the kidnapped threesome. Now the first thing I must stress here is the fact this tribe of nutters live far away from Bright Hope in a valley with caves, and yes, most of the runtime is spent watching our small band of heroes walk to this valley. I kid you not people, don't go expecting any blood and gore for quite some time because the heroes have to walk hundreds of miles to get to this valley. Now remember I said O'Dwyer has a broken leg, well that doesn't stop him coming along for the trip. OK its understandable that he's upset because his wife has been snatched by blood thirsty savages, but surely the fact he has a broken leg is enough to make him think twice about going, I mean...what can do?? To make matters even worse, halfway into the trip they get done over by some bandits who nick off with their horses! So then they end up walking the rest of the way! and O'Dwyer has a broken leg!! As if anyone would have allowed this guy to come along, and they could have easily stopped him, sheesh! Eventually after much travelling, we start to get down to the real nitty gritty of the story, the savages. Now I'm still kinda unsure who these people are suppose to be, are they a primitive Native American tribe? a lost undiscovered tribe dating back to earlier man? a cult? or just insane Native Americans? We don't really get any background info on these people other than where they live and that they eat people. Visually they kinda have a South American Inca vibe about them if you ask me, but I guess they're probably native Americans. As the situation deepens we find these people are made out to be somewhat supernatural, mainly down to their ghostly body paint, gruesome body modifications and their howling abilities. Yes that's right, these people can howl like...umm, monsters? Turns out they have some kind of whistle thing implanted in their throats (body modification) which allows them to howl by arcing their bodies upwards like wolves, and it can be really loud. They do this to communicate to each other over distances, but we never hear them speak to each other either. This alone offers up so many questions such as, what are these whistle things? (they look like bone), and where do they get them? (presumably from dead animals?). How do they implant them into their throats and how does that howling work? Is it possible that doing this operation makes them unable to speak? This also leads me to the small sequence where O'Dwyer has managed to kill one of the tribe and he's sees the neck whistle thing. He then proceeds to cut it out because, of course you'd do that, I know I would (pfft!!!), obviously he's gonna need it later on down the line. So yeah after cutting up this dead guys neck for some icky bone whistle thing, he then proceeds to actually use the thing! He actually sticks it in his own mouth and starts to use it as a whistle, because of course you would, I know I'd do that (pfft!!!!!). But again...what actually is this thing?! Of course being cannibals you just know there's gonna be some sick sacrificial sequence where some poor sod gets chopped up, and guess what...there is! Yes for all you gore porn fans out there, there is indeed a lovely moment where deputy Nick is literally torn apart after being scalped and having his own scalp shoved down his throat, for some reason. You see I don't get this notion, OK you're a cannibal and you eat people, fine. Now you have some people captured and you're gonna eat them, fine. Why the flippin' fuck would you wanna kill them in some disgusting manner? Firstly why are you acting so cruel to the victim, surely killing and eating them is bad enough, at least put them out of their misery nicely, softly. Secondly, why would you wanna tear their body apart and see everything? wouldn't that put you off? do people do that to animals for food? No, you just kill them, chop off the bits you need and cook it up, no need to methodically rip the victim to pieces letting everything fall out everywhere making a mess. It just seems to me like they had to make the killing as gruesome as possible to attract an audience for the film, cannibalism clearly equals mega gruesome death sequences for fun, apparently. The entire movie is absolutely ridiculous from one scene to the next. The cannibals live in some cave high up in a cliff face, the only way into this cave is by having ropes thrown down for you to climb up, got that? So how on earth did O'Dwyer, with his broken leg, manage to get his ass into the cave just in time to save the day towards the end of the film? Oh...spoiler alert, but if you've seen the film you know its bloody obvious he'll end up doing this. Its just like the cannibals waiting to kill Nick right at the moment that Hunt and co have been captured, presumably for dramatic effect and to show their fate? They had Nick and O'Dwyer's wife for bloody ages and they only kill Nick at that moment? I guess they were full from eating the other guy (the suspicious guy). In the end I found this movie to be rather dull for the first part, rather unnecessarily gory at times, and finally just plain stupid. Russell looks the part and is enjoyable to watch as usual even though his acting has always been rather wooden if you ask me. It looks like he's either on the way to making 'The Hateful Eight' or just finished, and he's using his facial hair one last time before having a shave. Everyone else on board is fine but nothing special, its cool that we get to know each character quite well as they travel towards an uncertain future, but essentially the enemy they face is so daft and not particularly scary anyway. In the end they are fighting against a native tribe of cannibals in war paint (and not many either), nothing really ingenious to say the least, nothing particularly new. Just take the 'Aliens' setup and replace a futuristic space setting with the wild west, and then replace aliens with cannibals, job done. If you're into low budget, indie horror flicks then this is for you. Myself, I wasn't really taken by this, I kinda found myself wishing they were up against wild west werewolves or something.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

The easiest way to describe Bone Tomahawk is compare it to a mash-up of The Proposition and The Descent. And seeing that both of those movies are pretty great in their own right, I shouldn't have to say much else about Bone Tomahawk. But I will anyway. Bone Tomahawk's biggest strength is understanding that its slow burn structure has to pay-off at some point and there's no mistaking the moments in which Bone Tomahawk pays off. It's also great that none of the movie's principal performers are bad, everyone is either good or great. Kurt Russell being awesome in a movie isn't particularly surprising (neither is Patrick Wilson being awesome), but Matthew Fox is the biggest surprise, delivering one of the best amoral characters I've seen in a western in a long time. And without giving too much away, this film has some of the best gore-make-up effects I've seen in years. The ending itself leaves a little to be desired, but the overall package is fantastically horrifying and way too cool to pass up. Unless you can't handle extreme violence, in which case you should avoid this movie like the plague.

Jacob Ethington
Jacob Ethington

Super Reviewer

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