10 Recent Western Movies That Probably Flew Under Your Radar

Westerns have been around for a long time. Die-hard fans of this genre love the great action and look back into the Wild West that’s rife with intriguing lore. Unfortunately for said fans, Westerns aren’t released as often in recent years. When they are, they typically don’t garner much attention. Many people have preconceived notions about what Westerns are or can be. Are they all about gun-wielding criminals galloping around on horses? No, but a large percentage of the public believe so.

Martin Scorsese’s 2023 Killers of the Flower Moon received a lot of attention. However, the fan base of the director and stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro being attached to the movie, ensured that one wouldn’t go unnoticed. For many Westerns, they are released, and the entertainment industry goes on as though nothing happened. Some of them are certainly trite, regurgitations of old classics, but some are truly great. Whatever the reason, here are 10 recent Westerns that likely flew under your radar.

10 Butcher’s Crossing (2022)

Butcher’s Crossing is a Western based on a novel from 1960. It follows a man named Will Andrews, living in 1874. Will abandoned his Harvard education and set out for a frontier town known as Butcher’s Crossing in Kansas. He dreams of seeing the Wild West, and boy, does he. Will, being quite naïve and buying into the idealistic picture of the buffalo trade happening in the area, shells out all his money for an expedition to see a herd. The film follows his and his new companions’ journey.

Nothing New Here

Opinions vary regarding whether this film is an underrated gem that people missed out on, or if it’s just another generic Western that viewers aren’t missing out on. Either way, saying it “flew under the radar” would be a massive understatement. According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed a little over $15k worldwide. Fans of the Western genre have probably seen films with similar premises, so even a respected actor like Nicolas Cage couldn’t draw in much attention. Rent on Apple TV.

9 The Last Manhunt (2022)

The Last Manhunt is based on a story partially written by actor Jason Momoa, who also served as executive producer. Set in the early 1900s, Willie is a part of the Paiute indigenous group. He falls in love with a woman named Carlota. However, because she’s part of a rival tribe, the Chemehuevis, they are forbidden to be together. When Carlota’s father confronts Willie, who accidentally shoots him, the two star-crossed lovers go on the run.

Romeo and Juliet Meets the Wild West

Action. Adventure. Romance. There are loads of compelling elements to this film, but Westerns often have a niche audience. Momoa isn’t a huge presence in the film, so fans of his also didn’t have a huge reason to expand their genre preferences.

While it’s not the most imaginative or memorable, The Last Manhunt is better than the non-existent word of mouth would have people believe. It doesn’t try to be bigger than it is. The filmmakers know it’s another small-scale addition to a famous Paiute legend, and it does just fine with that. Stream on Paramount+.

Related: Jason Momoa’s 10 Best Movies, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes

8 The Old Way (2023)

The Old Way

Release Date
January 6, 2023

Brett Donowho

95 minutes

The Old Way is another Western starring Nicolas Cage. This time, the actor portrays a former gunfighter named Colton Briggs in the late 1800s. He gave up his gun-slinging ways upon meeting his wife, Ruth. Now, he has a twelve-year-old daughter and works as a merchant and farmer. Though he has put his past behind him, his former victims have not. The nephew of a bandit Colton killed goes to his house and murders Ruth. Distraught, Colton opts to seek out the men who committed a crime.

A Harmful Trope?

The setup of this film may be a reason for its low coverage. “Fridging” or “women in refrigerators” is a concept of when a woman/female character is killed or harmed significantly to motivate a male character or give him a tragic backstory. Whether that fits here is up for debate, but the movie does have one redeeming quality to offset that.

Brooke, Colton and Ruth’s daughter, is one of the most interesting characters in the film. She’s spunky, dealing with grief in her new way, and accompanies her father on his adventures. Is she having the most stable of childhoods? Not by a long shot, but it does make for a fascinating character. Stream on Hulu.

7 Terror on the Prairie (2022)

Terror on the Prairie

Terror on the Prairie

On the Montana plains, a frontier woman must protect herself against a ruthless gang of outlaws hell-bent on revenge.

Release Date
June 9, 2022

Michael Polish

Gina Carano , Samaire Armstrong , Heath Freeman , Nick Searcy

Bonfire Legend, The Daily Wire

The Civil War has ended, but veteran Jeb McAllister’s life still hasn’t returned to a state of normalcy. He and his family live in the Montana plains. His wife, Hattie, and he have differing views on where to take their future. Hattie desires to head east to have the support of her parents, while Jeb wants to live independently, even with struggles. They reach common ground when a group of outlaws invades the couple’s land and try to break into their home.

Don’t Pass on This One

Terror on the Prairie may have been overlooked because of its genre. However, this film takes the tropes that make Westerns what they are but modernizes them in a way that still falls in line with genre expectations. Namely, Hattie is a huge focal point of the story, not simply as a love interest of a damsel in distress, but as a formidable opponent to the outlaws in her own right.

6 The Harder They Fall (2021)

If less traditional depictions of Western stories are what audiences crave, The Harder They Fall is an excellent option. At eleven years old, Nat Love witnessed the utmost tragedy when his parents were murdered. Now, as an adult, Nat takes revenge by killing one of the men responsible and stealing his bounty. There’s still one of his parents’ murderers to contend with, a man named Rufus Buck, who is the leader of a brutal gang. With corrupt police officers, soldiers, and more, Nat has his work cut out for him.

A Pleasant Change

A point that is brought up about adding more people of color to historical pieces is that it’s “unrealistic.” This film shows why that idea is false. Most of the characters are based on actual people, Black cowboys who helped shape the everlasting image of the Wild West.

The movie made practically nothing in its limited theatrical release, but gained more traction once released on Netflix. On its face, the plot of The Harder They Fall doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but the inclusion of these lesser-known characters and a more diverse Western should put this one on viewers’ radar. Stream on Netflix.

Related: The Harder They Fall Review: Flashy Gunslingers Shoot to Thrill on Netflix

5 Cry Macho (2021)

cry macho

Cry Macho

Release Date
September 17, 2021

1hr 44min

Clint Eastwood starred in, directed, and produced Cry Macho, a Western based on a novel published in 1975. Mike Milo used to captivate crowds as a rodeo star, but had to give it up due to an injury. Mike is hired by his ex-boss to pick up his son Rafo from Mexico City and bring him back to Texas. While in Mexico, Mike learns that Rafo is starting a life of crime and has resisted previous attempts to reconnect with his father. Rafo isn’t the only one who doesn’t want him to go to the States. His mother sends men after Mike and Rafo to keep him close, complicating their journey.

Step Aside

More than the fight scenes, the moments when Mike and Rafo bond are the most dynamic parts of this film. Little by little, we see them breaking down each other’s walls and getting to the heart of their current issues. Cry Macho recouped only half of its $33 million budget and didn’t make a splash at all in public discourse.

Perhaps Eastwood wasn’t the best fit for the role of Mike, and he should’ve stuck to a more ancillary role rather than being front and center. Yet even with its missteps, the movie has enough heart to make it worth at least one watch. Stream on Max.

4 Old Henry (2021)

Old Henry

Old Henry

Release Date
October 1, 2021

Jason Ponciroli

1hr 39min

Old Henry revolves around a man named Henry living in Oklahoma in 1906. He’s raising his son Wyatt on his own after the death of his wife. One day, he and Wyatt find a horse with a bloodied saddle and later his rider clinging to life next to a satchel full of money. Taking the man back to his house, they learn the survivor went after a group of outlaws, ones who will be looking for him and that bag of cash. Though Henry wanted nothing to do with this mess, he’s now stuck in the middle of it.

Giving Fans What They Want

Reaching just over $40,000 at the box office, it can be easy to dismiss this as an outright failure. However, this independent film wasn’t slated to be 2021’s biggest film. Though it didn’t make a splash or gain much attention, those who watched it largely enjoyed it, praising the solid acting and tight pace. Some Western lovers don’t want new, modern twists and prefer the classic feel of the genre. For those viewers, Old Henry will be a familiar-feeling, comfort watch. Stream on Showtime.

3 The Stolen Valley (2022)

The Stolen Valley

The Stolen Valley

Release Date
October 1, 2022

Jesse Edwards

Briza Covarrubias , Allee Sutton Hethcoat , Micah Fitzgerald , Paula Miranda

105 Minutes

The Stolen Valley centers on a Mexican-Navajo woman named Lupe. She works as a mechanic but needs more resources if she’s going to help her mother, whose health is on the decline. Swallowing down her pride, she sets out to find her estranged, wealthy father to ask for assistance. On her way, she meets an outlaw cowgirl. With her new companion, Lupe is introduced to a world of rogue individuals. To her surprise, these new people she encounters provide insight into her own family.

A Fresh Take

Westerns are still largely dominated by male characters. Often, as evidenced even by this list, women are the love interests of the principal character or another minor character. In a nice change of pace, The Stolen Valley places two starkly different but equally gripping women in the forefront. Sure, some of the messaging and themes are a bit heavy-handed. Yet, with so much homogeneity, it’s nice to view a classic Western tale from a new angle.

Related: The 11 Best Women Performances in Westerns

2 Organ Trail (2023)

Organ Trail

Organ Trail

Release Date
April 14, 2023

Michael Patrick Jann

Michael Abbott Jr. , Alejandro Akara , Olivia Grace Applegate , Cle Bennett

1hr 47min

Organ Trail is a horror Western set on the Oregon Trail in the 1870s. Abby is one of two children in the Archer family. She and her family set up camp and shortly after find an injured woman in a wagon. Later that night, bandits discover them and kill Abby’s entire family. Abby, the injured woman, and the family horse are kidnapped. She manages to escape, but is determined to get back the last connection to her family: their beloved horse.

Too Niche?

Gunfights, bloodshed, and murder are commonplace in Westerns, yet few films fully lean into horror elements. It’s such fertile ground to produce terror in audiences, and Organ Trail does it quite well. While it’s not the most nail-biting horror out there, it shows that genre blending can take films to new levels. However, due to it releasing to barely a whisper, it would make sense that filmmakers are hesitant to experiment with genres in this way again.

Related: Organ Trail: Why Horror and Westerns Are a Perfect Pairing

1 Dead for a Dollar (2022)

Max Borlund in Dead for a Dollar is a bounty hunter who does his business around New Mexico. He’s on edge because someone he sent behind bars and vowed to get revenge on him is set to get released. Nevertheless, he has a job to do. A businessman says his wife is being held for ransom and needs Max to retrieve her. With money, secrets, and lives on the line, this is bound to be one of Max’s toughest jobs yet.

Not Bad, but Not Great

This film has elements that make it good and others that put it into snooze-fest territory. Western fans aren’t preoccupied with the most inventive plots, yet still, this one walks (or trots) in place for some time. What saved the movie is a cast that breathes life into the film. Christoph Waltz, William Dafoe, and Rachel Brosnahan all have major roles and prove why they’ve all found such success in the industry.

Dead for a Dollar garnered a bit of talk when it premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival and has slowly faded in the months and years since. Stream on Showtime.


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