It wasn't long ago that the legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg predicted superhero films would go "the way of the Western." In the mid-20th century, there were a deluge of Western films being made, both good and bad. The genre dominated the movie screen for a number of years before it quietly fell out of favor. Spielberg believes that superhero films are just another trend that will disappear in a few years.
Fortunately, even if Spielberg is ultimately proven correct, the Western genre is still alive and well. This year will see the release of Quentin Tarantino's high-profile Western The Hateful Eight, starring Kurt Russell. Russell is no stranger to the genre, having played the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp in Tombstone over two decades ago. However, before his big budget return to the genre in December, Russell will be getting back in the saddle in S. Craig Zahler's Western-horror hybrid Bone Tomahawk.
Entertainment Weekly has released the first official trailer for Bone Tomahawk, which you can view at the top of the article. The film made its world premiere at Fantastic Fest 2015, having the honor of closing out the multi-day festival. The screening helped build some momentum for the film, scoring mostly positive reviews from the critics in attendance.
Bone Tomahawk stars Kurt Russell as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, a grizzled veteran in the Old West. When settlers from his small town are taken by a tribe of cannibals, the sheriff must lead a four-man posse through uncharted territory to try and save the victims. Joining the dangerous expedition are the associate deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the husband of one of the victims, Arthur O'Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), and the ruthless killer John Brooder (Matthew Fox). The film was written by Zahler and will mark his directorial debut.
The film attracted its stellar cast early on, with Russell being the first to sign on to the project. It wasn't long before Richard Jenkins came on board, but this was followed by financial problems that stalled production for nearly two years. The actors both stood by the project, indicating they believe in Zahler's script enough to argue in the film's favor. It's a testament not only to the strength of the screenplay, but the commitment these two veterans have to the film.
Films like Bone Tomahawk and The Hateful Eight indicate that the Western is far from dead; it's merely another genre that had to adapt to a changing film market. Bone Tomahawk infuses the Western with horror elements, making for an intriguing, original premise that drew incredible talent to the project. So perhaps it is inevitable that the superhero genre will "go the way of the Western," but all that means is that it will adapt and survive, moving in unexpected new directions.
Bone Tomahawk opens in U.S. Theaters on October 23rd, 2015.