On December 25th, 2015 the Hateful Eight, directed by Quentin Tarantino, was released. Set four, five or maybe six years after the Civil War, this story follows the bounty hunter John Ruth “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as they and their stagecoach rider O.B.’s (James Parks) attempt to outrun a blizzard on their way to the town of Red Rock. Along the way they pick up Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). However the blizzard catches up to them before they reach Red Rock. This unlikely group takes refuge from the storm in Minnie’s Haberdashery where they unexpectedly find four other mysterious travelers: Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Señor Bob (Demián Bichir). Without giving too much away, the next two and a half hours are what can only be described as what happens when Tarantino wants to make a movie of the game Clue.
This movie’s biggest flaw is its setting. The issue is not in the setting itself; Minnie’s Haberdashery is a lovely one-room place made to appear all the bigger through expert camera-work. The issue is that apart from the first thirty minutes which take place in a stage coach, Minnie’s Haberdashery is the only setting. This movie could very well be just a Broadway play that was filmed. This gripe seems rather minor, however, when other movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross and Reservoir Dogs do the very same thing. But the problem is exacerbated when you realize The Hateful Eight is an hour and half longer than either of those movies, and it feels that way. There are moments when the movie slows down dramatically and I couldn’t help but think, this movie is three hours, and they kept this scene?
Yet despite these moments, I couldn’t help but love the The Hateful Eight. It was the embodiment of what has become Tarantino’s own genre. The dialogue is witty, fast, and ingenious. Tarantino never falls on cliches and The Hateful Eight is no exception. His characters are deep and fascinating. Each one has an expansive and interesting backstory and fleshed out motivations and goals. They are all deceptive and underhanded. Most of the movie is spent wondering how much of what the characters say is the truth, and that is what often holds the audience’s interest during the slower moments. Of course, this movie is violent, so violent. But that should be expected from Tarantino at this point. Not once did I feel the violence was unnecessary or overused, although it was most certainly over the top.
In short, The Hateful Eight is a quintessential Quentin Tarantino film, a return to his roots in Reservoir Dogs. If you are a huge fan of Tarantino, I highly recommend this film, although if you are a huge fan, you have probably already seen it.