Blu-ray Review: BONE TOMAHAWK

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SHOCK delves into the Blu-ray release of S. Craig Zahler’s western/horror masterpiece BONE TOMAHAWK.

In the wake of SHOCK’s glut of “Best of 2015” lists, it’s refreshing to see just how many of our writers placed S. Craig Zahler’s revisionist horror/western hybrid BONE TOMAHAWK prominently in their selections. First of all, it’s by all outward appearances not a horror film at all. Second, its marketing was minimal and its theatrical presence nominal. But it’s word of mouth is almost universally excellent. If you’ve seen BONE TOMAHAWK, chances are it hit you hard in all the right places: the mind, the gut, the soul. It’s a real piece of cinema armed with some of the most upsetting violence seen on screen in some time.

Now, we reviewed the film HERE and it’s best that you click over to that page for our full-blown rundown as to why Zahler’s film is such a masterpiece. But to paraphrase, the low-budget production stars Kurt Russell (currently seen in his 70mm-captured Cowboy duds in Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT), Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox and Patrick Wilson as a band of lawmen and every-man who venture deep into the badlands of New Mexico (actually a ranch just outside of LA!) to find Wilson’s kidnapped wife and do battle with a primitive tribe of “Troglodytes”: dusty mutant cannibals intent on crushing those they believe have disturbed their ancient turf.

But the pleasure in BONE TOMAHAWK isn’t in the gynecology of the plot but in the way Zahler slows down time and space and lets his actors do what they do best: act. They’re aided by Zahler’s magnificent, meandering dialogue that is free of Tarantino-flash but has the kind of articulate rhythm and odd word selections that made HBO’S DEADWOOD such a mesmerizing entertainment. And that aforementioned gore really does rip you apart almost as badly as it rips apart…never mind, I’m teetering on Spoiler Bluff so I’ll just stop.

RLJ Entertainment just released the Blu-ray yesterday and it’s a decent package, though with a film we’re this fixated on, it would have been nice to have even more to chew on.First we have a short, but interesting “Making of” doc that sports the actors, director and producer talking at length about why they made the film and why it works; unlike most of these similar EPK supplements, you can truly feel the passion these people had for the project, how proud they are of the movie and how in awe they are of their director and producers, who managed to make a 70-location strong, epic western on shoestring budget in less than three weeks. Same goes for the extended Q&A from the 2015 Fantastic Fest premiere, in which Wilson, Fox, Jenkins, Zahler and producer Dallas Sonier answer audience questions and discuss the many hurtles they had to overcome to finish the film.

Rounding out the supplements are a deleted scene that offers the joy of more Jenkins (who, like everyone in the cast, is top of his game here), a gallery of stills and the trailer.

The film looks sumptuous in 1080p 2:40:1 widescreen and sounds great too, sound being a major force in the film in that there is almost no music but plenty of detailed aural effects and atmospherics.

BONE TOMAHAWK is one of the best films of 2015, in any genre, and this release is an essential own. That said, a commentary would have been nice and here’s hoping the movie’s already thriving cult dictates a grander edition down the road.