An excerpt from The Captain’s film review of Bone Tomahawk which will be available 8/25/14:
Back to the film. Oddly enough, a lot of the dialogue I had issue with really worked in the film. Like the scene at the end when Sheriff Hunt and the old timer deputy Chicory played by Richard Jenkins are imprisoned by the savages and Chicory starts going on about a flea circus he saw once, questioning its authenticity. It read kind of silly to me but in the film it done rung true. The way he played it, how it was acted really turned what I saw as a silly moment as kind of a touching one. I mean, whatever you can do to try to distract yourself from waiting your turn to be chopped in half from the scrotum up, right?
Oh yeah, that happens by the way. And god is it gross. To be scalped, have it stuffed and sewn into your mouth as you’re held upside down as a cannibal beats at your taint with a tomahawk, then just being pulled apart… maybe the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long while. The SFX work on this it just fantastic, all practical it seemed. They didn’t even cut corners with the muzzle flashes. Everything seemed real and practical. Which is just another reason for any true horror fan to check this out. If there was CGI work done here, I never noticed it and that’s really how CGI should be used.
Now to address that no good scoundrel Hank the brigand’s issue about pacing. Yes, this film is slow. But you need to keep in mind this is a western. Westerns have a way to kind of move at their own pace. One example being Appaloosa. Where not a damn thing happens, yet is still a western I love. Or Open Range, where not much happens until the last 30 minutes and then shit gets insane. Or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Another western that’s slow as hell, but really damn good. Also there is the slow burn horror film like Alien, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shinning… just to name a few.
Patrick Wilson’s wife Samantha along with a deputy get taken by a bunch of cave dwelling savages, him and Sheriff Hunt, his old deputy and a dandy played by Matthew Fox go on a 5 night ride to get to the caves to rescue them. A task not as easy as you might think.
What I really liked is the character development. By the time they get to the savages, we know these characters. And since these 4 men are so likeable, we absolutely dread what is about to happen to them.
Patrick Wilson’s character Arthur is risking losing his leg just so he can get his wife back. Sheriff Hunt is about as trustworthy and honest of a man as it gets, even leaving his ailing wife to gather this search party. And Chicory is this old widower just looking to feel relevant or useful. Even Matthew Fox’s character Brooder starts out with him being possibly the unlikeable one of the group with his feelings towards Arthur’s wife Samantha, not to mention his unhealthy hatred for Indians… and normally that’s all his character would be. The tough rogue that’s going to get them out of any tough situation. But since we spent so much time with him and the others, he is so much more fleshed out. He hates Indians because they butchered his whole family. He wants to help Arthur sure because he has feelings for his wife, but she chose Arthur and he respects that. He just wants to help out. That and kill him some more Indians.
And it’s worth repeating they are so likeable. That is something most horror films even tv shows, I’m looking at you Scream Queens, is missing. You need to really care about these people if their deaths are going to be impactful in any way. And here, a pit grows in your stomach because of what is going to happen. By the time they arrive, you love this group of guys.
Now of course the down side of this is you risk boring your audience. It’s a balance. One I think this film found a loophole for. The suspense really comes from Arthur’s damn leg. I know that sounds boring, you’re here for goddamn cannibals, not watching a guy hobble around for an hour. But you want him to save his wife. After their horses get stolen and have to walk the rest of the way, there is no way you think Arthur is going to make it. The guy is going to die before he even makes it to the cave.
Character development, guys! It matters!
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