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Kill of the Week: Split Down the Middle in ‘Bone Tomahawk’

Every week, we spotlight a kill that we just can’t get enough of. This is Kill of the Week.

Debut features are rarely as impressive as Brawl in Cell Block 99 director S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk, a hybrid horror-western that earned Zahler favorable comparisons to another filmmaker who became a bold force of nature in his debut outing: Quentin Tarantino.

An incredible ensemble cast including Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Matthew Fox and Patrick Wilson (along with brief appearances from Sid Haig and David Arquette!) star in Bone Tomahawk, the tale of a sheriff and three other men who embark on an epic rescue mission after a deputy and doctor are kidnapped by a band of vicious Troglodytes.

The film starts off as a slow burn Western, driven by writing that’s as good as the individual performances, but when it embraces the horror… oh boy does it get ugly.

One particular scene is one of the most shocking in recent years. Locked up by the cannibal clan, Russell and Jenkins’ characters are forced to watch as they brutally dismember another human being, removing his scalp with a knife and then pulling his legs apart and splitting him down the middle with the titular weapon.

It’s one of the most savage and barbaric kills in cinema history, and Zahler forces you to watch every second along with the horrified characters behind the cage.

The sound design, in particular, has probably made at least a few people vomit.



  • Creepshow

    This one should have remained quiet for people to experience on their own.

    • John Squires

      I would assume anyone who hasn’t seen the movies I profile here, and doesn’t want any spoilers, probably wouldn’t click the links. Also, would never feature a movie that isn’t at least a couple years old.

      • Creepshow

        Out of the millions, some kills are sacred. Cannibals are now looking for you, for showing their hand.

      • Munchie Strikes Back

        Also people who haven’t seen it will still read the headline and know when they watch Bone Tomahawk that, at some point, someone will be split down the middle.

        • John Squires

          Hardly a spoiler, without any kind of context. If anything, will get more people to watch the movie. Which they should. It’s incredible.


    yep… still hard to watch

  • Liam Pendergast

    (starts movie) “Seems like a great John Ford style Western”.

    (Final 25 minutes) “OH MY SWEET MARY MOTHER OF GOD!”

    • Russell Reball

      Good one.

  • Collin

    I still need to see this but can’t find it anywhere

  • fannypack aficionado

    Olaf Ittenbach did it better.

  • J Jett

    yeah, this scene….BRUTAL!

  • Cure4Humanity

    Holy fuck…I was not quite prepared for that…Going to have to check this film out ASAP.

  • Necro

    Holy motherfucker that was disturbing! Churned my stomach, and that rarely ever happens! I’ve been told about this film before and now I’m definitely going out of my way to watch it. I’m going to assume that isn’t the only scene of violence, I mean I know they’re not going to all be like that, but if that’s it I’m going to be pissed.

    • Judge Satchmo

      Nothing remotely reaches that level, but there is plenty of violence to be had.

      • Necro


  • Mr. Dry

    Despite the great performances the whole film was kinda boring for me to be honest (I’m not that into westerns, so is probably my problem) but that particular scene left me speechless, one of the most shocking gore scenes I’ve seen, mostly because of how realistic and unexpected it is.

  • Elizabeth

    Yeah, that scene totally effed me up when I watched the movie. Definitely wasn’t expecting it.

  • Wil McMullen

    I loved, LOVED this movie! I was sooo unready when this scene came on

  • Garbageface

    That’s the kill of the decade

  • Mark Davis

    Noob Saibot wins. FATALITY!

  • DC_Fan38

    True horror. Savages.

  • Chris Stockwell

    One of the best Westerns I’ve seen. Having a horror context mixed in, makes it even a better experience. We need more films like this! Original Horror. Not recycled storytelling with cheap jump scares. I don’t know what your opinion is on Kurt Russell.. But that dude is perfect for westerns.

    • jacobia

      1000% agreed! Awesome movie, great performances, especially with a grizzled Kurt Russell.

  • Jérémy Kuprowski

    I found the movie way too slow in my opinion. I honestly got bored to tears until that GODDAMN scene! It really made the last 20 minutes fly over my head as a result.

    I would have honestly enjoyed the movie far more if it was made as a full-on horror/western (something we definitely don’t have enough of) . I guess the impact was even bigger as a result though?

  • Bart Crowe

    Bone Tomahawk reminded me of Jack Ketchum first novel, Off Season. Great and gruesome stuff both this movie and the Jack Ketchum novel.


      Off Season was nuts, if someone ever made it into a movie it’d be 2 hours of this. I can’t imagine we’ll ever see a movie that vicious or graphically violent, after watching this scene again, I’m not too sure I’d even want to see it either. Great book and all, but man it was rough.

      • Bart Crowe

        The sequel novel, Offspring, was adapted into a movie but it wasn’t very good. Good news though Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee teamed up to make another sequel movie called The Woman and it is much better.

    • Frank Gambino

      jack ketchum´s the shit. Richard Laymon too.

  • HeWaTcHeSnOeYeS

    That was pretty tame.
    Now the final kill in Jigsaw….that’s not.

  • Kyle Cole

    Split down the middle has always been done different. My personal favorite is the split down the middle kill in Wrong Turn 2!!!


    No one was ready for this when they saw the movie. Kurt Russell getting two fingertips lopped off is the least disturbing part of the scene.

  • James

    Awesome movie and an amazing murder. One of the few kills I’ve seen in recent years that actually disturbed me.

  • Dave Brown

    Just watched it loved it I wouldn’t call it a horror flick only because the west was that raw at times who’s to say shit like that didn’t happen, but it truly did feel like a good western movie. Kurt was great!

    • MrX13

      The whole cast was fantastic!

    • Frank Gambino

      Yeah, I definitely consider it more of a western than a horror.

  • Travis_Bickle

    Nothings Happening….Nothings Happening…Something about a kidnapping…Nothings happening…Some dudes leg is broken…Nothings Happening…Horrific violence for 15 minutes.

    That is Bone Tomahawk in a nutshell. It’s long and boring and there is no music which makes it seem longer. Then fools get hacked up in the last 15 minutes. I’d rather carve my eyeballs out of my skull then watch this movie again.

  • MrX13

    Bone Tomahawk, one of my favorite westerns. Russell, Fox, Jenkins and Wilson did a tremendous job with their characters. Great movie but when the shit happens, it happens unexpectedly and turns out so badass!

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