Bone Tomahawk

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Bone Tomahawk Movie Poster Image
Unusual Western has torture and extreme gore.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 132 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters team up and show bravery and determination, facing a potentially lethal situation to rescue a loved one. On the other hand, the movie takes a negative view of non-white characters.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The male characters show teamwork and bravery but are also violent and sometimes reckless. A smart, resilient female character in a smaller role works as a doctor.


Extreme violence, with heavy gore and blood. Kidnapping and torture. A man is split in half. Shooting with guns and arrows. Throat slicing. Head bashing. Blood splatters. Dead bodies. Disturbing images (pregnant women with limbs cut off and blinded, wooden stakes in their eyes). An injured leg, with harrowing, wince-inducing moments of pain. Gory surgery, people removing bullets, setting broken limbs. Belly sliced open, hot metal flask inserted into cavity. Severed fingers and heads. Brief, suggested male nudity as a man is tortured and killed. Scalping. Shooting injured horse (off screen). Punching. Cannibalism.


A married couple has sex in bed; partial female nudity. Some brief innuendo.


"Son of a bitch," "damnation," "goddamn," "imbecile."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief drinking in a bar. Liquid opium is used to kill pain and dispatch enemies.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysadistic gamer November 11, 2020

thank you Craig Zalher!

not for the fait hearted!
Adult Written byStevie111 October 6, 2017

Well done western that isn't frequently violent, but still extremely tense and twisted

I really enjoyed Bone Tomahawk and thought it was executed very well. It is slow and builds for a while with limited action. I will say I was expecting it to be... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAudra_Nicolio January 1, 2016

Very good, but EXTREMELY disturbing!!


I am a person who can get through the guts and gruel usually, but oh my god. From the "eiree screaming" to the scalping a man, making hi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach February 19, 2021

Gory western horror movie

I thought this movie was very creative and original. The problem I had with this movie was that the pacing was bad. It was very slow and it dragged a lot of tim... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Bone Tomahawk's violence. How did it make you feel? What were the most intense parts? How did they relate to the characters? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • 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?

Movie details

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