A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bone Tomahawk is an unusual Western with some gruesome parts. The brutal, gory violence includes slicing, digging into wounds, severed limbs and body parts, shooting with guns and arrows, dead bodies, and other grisly things. A woman is kidnapped, and characters are tortured (one torture scene includes partial male nudity). There's also a sex scene with partial female nudity and some brief innuendo. Language includes "son of a bitch" and "goddamn." Characters drink during a bar scene, and liquid opium is part of the plot. This one is only for people looking for something different, although adventurous viewers may find a new cult favorite.
What's the story?
When two misfits (Sid Haig and David Arquette) disrupt a sacred burial ground, a tribe of primitive, mysterious people attacks the neighboring town, killing bystanders and kidnapping Dr. Samantha O'Dwyer (Lili Simmons). Despite his injured leg, Samantha's husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson), is determined to rescue her. He sets out with Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell), assistant deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), and well-spoken gunman John Brooder (Matthew Fox) to find the tribe. Arthur's leg gives the men plenty of trouble along the way, especially after brigands steal their horses. But when the savages turn out to be far stranger and deadlier than anyone could have imagined, it's up to Arthur to save the day.
Is it any good?
A debut feature by S. Craig Zahler, this feels like a potential cult favorite; it's strange and disturbing but also imaginative and surprising. It displays a rare, impressive amount of patience. Although it's a long 132 minutes, BONE TOMAHAWK's greatest strength is its pacing. No moment feels wasted, and every moment is an opportunity for greater richness of character, or to ponder the situation's rights and wrongs. The playful dialogue often takes advantage of this (listen for one monologue about a flea circus!).
Zahler has a gift for the unexpected and manages to get in many sudden twists. But he doesn't shy away from intense moments of pain and suffering; Arthur's injured leg in particular causes many wince-inducing sequences. Also, the evil natives are painted as monsters without much chance to seem human; it's a white, Western, outsiders' view of "the other." Bone Tomahawk definitely isn't for fans of the mainstream, but for the adventurous, it's worth a look.
Talk to your kids about ...
What makes this movie a Western? How does it compare to other Westerns you've seen? Do you think fans of traditional Westerns will enjoy it?
Is Samantha a strong character? A role model?
For kids who love scares
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.