Bone Tomahawk

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Bone Tomahawk
File:Bone Tomahawk Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by
  • Jack Heller
  • Dallas Sonnier
Written by S. Craig Zahler
Music by
  • Jeff Herriott
  • S. Craig Zahler
Cinematography Benji Bakshi
Edited by
Caliber Media Company
Distributed by RLJ Entertainment
Release dates
  • September 25, 2015 (2015-09-25) (Fantastic Fest)
  • October 23, 2015 (2015-10-23) (United States)
Running time
132 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $232,813[2]

Bone Tomahawk is a 2015 American horror western film directed and written by S. Craig Zahler, and stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, and Sean Young. The film is produced by Jack Heller and Dallas Sonnier. The film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015.[3] and was given a limited release on October 23, 2015, by RLJ Entertainment.


In the 1890s, two drifters, Purvis and Buddy, make a living killing and robbing travelers. Spooked by the sound of approaching horses, they hide in the hills and encounter a Native American burial site. Buddy is attacked and killed, and Purvis escapes.

Eleven days later, Purvis arrives in the small town of Bright Hope and buries his stolen belongings. Chicory, the town's backup deputy, spots him and reports to sheriff Franklin Hunt. At the town's saloon, Hunt confronts Purvis. When asked his name, Purvis hesitates before giving the name "Buddy" in an attempt to hide his identity. Sheriff Hunt shoots Purvis in the leg when he tries to escape. Hunt sends John Brooder, a local educated man and known womanizer who witnesses the shooting, to fetch the town's doctor. Meanwhile, foreman Arthur O'Dwyer rests at home with a broken leg. His wife Samantha, the doctor's assistant, tends to his wound. As the doctor is drunk, Brooder calls Samantha and escorts her to the jail to treat Purvis's wound. Leaving Samantha with Purvis and his deputy Nick, Hunt and the others return home. That night, at a stable house, a stable boy is murdered by unseen attackers.

The murder is reported to Hunt, who investigates the scene and finds the horses missing. The jail is empty and only an arrow is left behind. Hunt calls a local Native American man to examine the arrow, and informs Arthur of the news. At the saloon, the Native American man links the arrow to a troglodyte clan. He tells Hunt of the clan's dwelling place, "Valley of the Starving Men", and warns him that they are a group of cannibalistic savages. Certain that Samantha, Nick and Purvis had been captured by them, Hunt prepares to go after them with Arthur. Chicory and Brooder volunteer to accompany them.

Days into their ride, two strangers stumble across their camp. Fearing they are scouts for a raid, Brooder kills them and they set up a cold camp elsewhere to avoid being attacked. During the night, a group of raiders ambush them, injure Brooder's horse and steal the rest. Brooder, wounded by an attacker, regretfully puts down his horse. After a day of walking, a fight breaks out between Brooder and Arthur, exacerbating Arthur's broken leg. Chicory sets his leg and leaves him behind to recover, while he, Hunt, and Brooder move on.

At the valley, the three men are injured by a volley of arrows. After killing two attackers, Hunt and Chicory retreat, leaving Brooder, who is seriously injured and demands to be left behind. Brooder kills one attacker before being killed himself. The cannibals capture Hunt and Chicory, and imprison them in their cave. The men find Samantha and an injured Nick, imprisoned in a nearby cage. They witness Nick being removed from his cell, stripped, cut apart and consumed. Samantha estimates the number of hostile cannibals to be around 12 (reduced to nine earlier by Hunt's posse).

Hunt realizes he has some opium tincture he confiscated from Arthur earlier to prevent him from overusing it. They lure several tribesmen to drink it, however only one drinks a fatal dose and another becomes unconscious. Meanwhile, Arthur wakes up, follows the men's trail and discovers the valley. He kills two tribesmen and notices an object embedded in their windpipes. After cutting one out, he realizes it is like a whistle. He blows on it, luring another tribesman close, then kills him.

In the cave, realizing two of their men were poisoned, the leader grows angry. He and another tribesman pull Hunt from his cell, cut open his stomach and shove the hot opium flask into the wound. The leader then takes Hunt's rifle and shoots his arm and stomach. Arthur arrives and kills one of the tribesmen, while Hunt kills the leader with one of the tribe's bone tomahawks. Arthur frees Samantha and Chicory, while a mortally wounded Hunt stays behind with his rifle. He prepares to kill the surviving cannibals when they return, to prevent them from terrorizing Bright Hope. As the three leave the cave, they see two pregnant females, who are blinded and have all their limbs amputated.

At a distance from the cave, they hear three gunshots, implying that Sheriff Hunt had killed the remaining males of the tribe. Chicory acknowledges the gunshots with a half-hearted smile. Tired, hurt, and with few supplies, the three begin the journey towards home.


Wilson was cast as Arthur O'Dwyer



On October 30, 2012, S. Craig Zahler was set to make his directorial debut with a horror western film from his own script, with the film starring Kurt Russell and Jennifer Carpenter.[4]


On September 24, 2014, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Fox joined the cast of the film to star along with Russell and Jenkins; Wilson would play Arthur O'Dwyer, a cowboy, while Fox would play the role of John Brooder.[5] On September 29, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, Kathryn Morris and Evan Jonigkeit joined the film; Simmons replaced Carpenter to play female lead Samantha O'Dwyer, the de facto doctor and wife of Arthur O'Dwyer, Arquette and Haig would play brigands, Morris would play the wife of Sheriff Hunt, while Jonigkeit was set to play a young deputy sheriff.[6] The other ensemble cast added by the director includes Sean Young, Geno Segers, Fred Melamed, James Tolkan, Raw Leiba, Jamie Hector, Jamison Newlander, Michael Paré, Zahn McClarnon, David Midthunder, Jay Tavare, Gray Wolf Herrera, Robert Allen Mukes, and Brandon Molale.[7] On October 2, Dave Halls was set as the first assistant director for the film.[8]


Principal photography began on October 6, 2014, in Malibu, California, where it was filmed for 21 days at the Paramount Ranch.[9]


in August 2015, RLJ Entertainment acquired distribution rights to the film.[10] The film had its world premiere at the Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2015.[3] On October 3, 2015, it screened at the Charlotte Film Festival.[11] It was then screened at the London Film Festival on October 10, 2015,[12] before it was released in a limited release on October 23, 2015.[13]


Bone Tomahawk received critical acclaim by critics and at festivals, for its acting (particularly for Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins and Matthew Fox), S. Craig Zahler's direction, realism, and the dialogue of Zahler's screenplay. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics gave the film a "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 71 reviews with an average score score of 7.1/10, with the site's consensus stating, "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." [14] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 72 (out of 100) based on 17 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable".[15]


Awards and nominations
Association Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards March 13, 2016 Best Actor Kurt Russell Won [16] [17]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Best Makeup/Creature FX Hugo Villasenor Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 27, 2016 Best Screenplay S. Craig Zahler Nominated [18]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards December 14, 2015 Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated [19]
Original Vision Award Bone Tomahawk Nominated
Phoenix Critics Circle December 16, 2015 Best Horror Film Bone Tomahawk Nominated [20]
Best Supporting Actor Richard Jenkins Nominated
Sitges Film Festival October 17, 2015 Best Direction Award S. Craig Zahler Won [21][22]
José Luis Guarner Prize Bone Tomahawk Won


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  2. Box Office Mojo
  3. 3.0 3.1 "BONE TOMAHAWK - Fantastic Fest". Fantastic Fest. Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Sneider, Jeff (30 October 2012). "S. Craig Zahler to direct 'Bone Tomahawk'". Retrieved 1 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Yamato, Jen (September 24, 2014). "Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox Join Kurt Russell Western 'Bone Tomahawk'". Retrieved September 26, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  8. Caranicas, Peter (October 2, 2014). "Below the Line Bookings". Retrieved October 3, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Christine. "'Bone Tomahawk', starring Kurt Russell, filming underway at Paramount Ranch". Retrieved October 6, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  11. "Kathryn Morris UK". Retrieved 4 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  18. McNary, Dave (November 24, 2015). "'Carol,' 'Spotlight,' 'Beasts of No Nation' Lead Spirit Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Indiana Film Journalists Association Editors (December 14, 2015). "Indiana Film Journalists Association Announces 2015 Film Awards". Indiana Film Journalists Association. Retrieved December 14, 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Hankins, Brent (December 16, 2015). "Phoenix Critics Circle Announces 2015 Award Winners". Nerd Repository. Retrieved December 16, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Mayorga, Emilio (October 17, 2015). "'Invitation' Tops Sitges". Variety. Retrieved October 17, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Sitges Film Festival Editors (October 17, 2015). "'The Invitation' is proclaimed winner of Sitges 2015". Sitges Film Festival. Retrieved October 17, 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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