Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, serving as his eighth feature film, The Hateful Eight opens with a stagecoach hurtling through a wintry Wyoming landscape. On board are the “The Hangman” John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his fugitive “The Prisoner” Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who are heading towards the town of Red Rock to bring Domergue to justice.
On their way they encounter two strangers, “The Bounty Hunter” Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and “The Sheriff” Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), and must seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass, on account of a terrible storm. Here, the passengers meet four strangers, “The Mexican” Bob (Demián Bichir), “The Little Man” Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), “The Cow Puncher” Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and “The Confederate” General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm grows bigger, the eight travellers come to learn that they may not make it to Red Rock after all…
When it comes to Tarantino you know what to expect, and The Hateful Eight delivers on all counts. It’s gruesome but equally hilarious, it’s over the top but genuine, and it sticks with you for a while afterwards.
As always, The Hateful Eight is incredibly well moulded and unfolds like a staged play. Set mainly in a single room with a group of well-developed characters reacting off each other, Tarantino’s incredible dialogue takes centre stage. Beautifully filmed in 70mm, as well, you get to see much more of these characters and their surroundings, making these characters feel somehow closer than they normally would, which adds to the excitement when their blood is splattering all over the place.
Not only does Tarantino craft such exceptional characters, but he always gets the most out of his actors, as well. The performances are just as brilliant as you would expect, with a group of Tarantino frequenters coming together to give what feels like one big showdown. And then there’s a very surprising role from Channing Tatum, which felt horribly misplaced. Maybe that was the purpose of his inclusion, though, as it certainly added to the uncomfortableness of the situation.
Whilst I think The Revenant will win the Best Cinematography award, I think a win for the Best Original Score is definitely on the cards for The Hateful Eight. I still have that opening sequence of music in my head.
The Hateful Eight may not be “the best Tarantino film yet” as it’s promoting, but it’s definitely a notable addition to his already exceptional filmography. For such a hard-hitting premise with so many conflicting characters, The Hateful Eight is a lot of fun, which makes the 187 minutes runtime fly by.