I still don’t know whether or not the Western might see another period of resurgence anywhere near the scale of its cinematic dominance from the 1930s through the 1960s — although the sheer length and scope of that dominance is something that should give solace to the purveyors of today’s superheroes against the prognostications of bubbles ready to burst. The Western and superhero genres actually have something in common as well in the sense that I believe both have the capacity to embrace several sub-genres, which possibly explains the longevity since you can change up the overarching trappings in order to tell different kinds of stories. A Western could also be a romance, or a heist, or a thriller…
…or a horror film.
That’s not necessarily some big revelation, particularly if you’re a long time reader of this blog who remembers my mentions of The Missing. Heck, there’s the not insignificant handful of zombie-themed Westerns to be found out there, though most are in the realm of low-budget camp rather than anything truly creepy. The Missing didn’t involve zombies, but was definitely creepy. And now, courtesy of a friend’s review, I can add Bone Tomahawk as another example of a Western that might leave you with some nightmares.
Bone Tomahawk, in fact, features antagonists who might well give the Huachucas nightmares. I highly recommend clicking that review link above if you want to know more, but there’s a stellar cast involved including Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and a nearly unrecognizable (to me, at least) Matthew Fox. He’s not under a ton of makeup, just doing a superb job playing a character a long way off from his role on Lost.
It’s also a very slow burn in its pacing, free from the emotional manipulation of background music even when it’s putting the most horrific violence on display. The decision to be mostly silent beyond the sounds made by the characters, their actions, and the desolate landscape gives the film a certain veritas which leaves you with the uneasy sense something like what you’re watching might actually have happened back in the untamed days of the frontier, no matter how outlandish it gets.
Oh, and there’s an old-timer in the group that runs his mouth almost as much as Chuck does. So if you’re spoiling for your Zombie Ranch fix this week, you could do worse than sticking Bone Tomahawk in your Netflix queue (or equivalent) and giving it a look. There’s no cambots to speak of, but atmospherically it’s definitely got the kind of feel I hope I’ve captured in our darker moments, both in pages past and pages to come.