That Scene From ‘Bone Tomahawk’ (2015)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*


Movie: Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Scene: The Splitting

THE PLAYERS

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Characters: Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell), Chicory (Richard Jenkins), Deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit), and some troglodytes.

THE SETUP

Set in the 1890s, this story takes place around a small town named Bright Hope. After the dead body of a stable boy is discovered, the Sheriff and other town realize that a deputy and the doctors assistant has been kidnapped. An educated Native American links the arrow to a clan that can only be called “troglodytes”, as their culture has no spoken language and hence no name. He warns Hunt that they are a group of cannibalistic savages. A group led by Sheriff Hunt, Deputy Chicory, volunteer Brooder, and husband of the doctors assistant, set out to track the savages and find their captured people.

After days of tracking, the group has been able to locate the savages camp but, unfortunately, some of their group are also captured. The savages bring them into their cave and imprison them. This leads us to our scene.

THAT SCENE

THE EXECUTION

I need a minute…ok I’m, nope…now I’m ready. Maybe.

You know most directors and/or studios would have had this happen off-screen where we only saw Kurt Russell’s reaction or we just saw the shadow of what was happening. At the very least, having this happen unfocused in the background. But not Zahler. Zahler gives no shits and proudly displays the entirety of this incredibly uncomfortable scene. From stripping the poor deputy completely naked to the moment he is split, we see it all.

The had been some realistic violence up until this point but it simply seemed to be a violent western, unlike the spaghetti westerns our dads were used to watching back in the day. Here, Zahler goes full-on horror from the scalping in which the poor man’s own scalp was stuffed in his mouth and the constant whacking at his groin with a bone tomahawk until he was split into two pieces. We see all of it and none of us were ready because we had no idea who Zahler was since this was his first feature.

I am one of those that believe, for the most part, sometimes it’s better to leave things up to the viewer’s imagination because there are numerous times where what they show doesn’t live up to what our mind conceives. This is not one of those instances because that is exactly where our minds would have gone and probably even exceeded what we could have conjured up. Zahler got a lifelong fan in me after this film and he hasn’t disappointed since. But ouch.


What do you think of this scene? Did you find it intense and well done?

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.