The Hateful Eight-2015
Starring-Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson
Scott’s Review #319
Reviewed January 3, 2016
Quentin Tarantino does it again! The modern equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, or any of the great directors, his films are an experience to be reveled in. The viewer is taken to another world and experiences a great fantasy. This time he dives into western territory with The Hateful Eight, a brutal tale of eight strangers holed up in a shelter during a Wyoming blizzard sometime shortly after the Civil war. Another gem of a film that delivers blood, unique characters, and brilliant writing.
We are introduced to Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and John “The Hangman” (Kurt Russell) early on, as Marquis hitches a ride on John’s stagecoach. They are both bounty hunters heading to Red Rock to deliver their prisoners and collect a large sum of loot. Marquis has three dead bodies, but John has captured brutal female criminal Daisy Domergue, played wonderfully by Jennifer Jason Leigh, alive and well. The group then picks up the new Red Rock sheriff, Chris Mannix, who is headed there to accept his new position. Everyone is in a panic to reach safety before a vicious blizzard hits and the group comes to a shelter where they meet the other films principals, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), Oswaldo (Tim Roth), Marco the Mexican (Demian Bichir), and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). These eight make up “The Hateful Eight” in the title.
The setting could not be better. The cold, wintry blizzard and the grand mountains of the west are authentic. However, most of the film is set inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, an inn, of sorts, where the eight (and some others) spend most of the film. I found the setting tremendously effective as the howling wind, the driving snow through the windows, mixed with the glowing warmth of the lighting and the hot, steaming, soothing stew that they ate, and the hot coffee, which is ingeniously featured throughout the film. These hot and cold elements contrasted so well.
Shot in 70 mm film to ensure a wide screen, epic look, the film succeeds in the snowy, outdoor scenes, though I am not sure I would notice this camera style without it having been touted with the release of the film.
The characters bristle with authenticity and engagement and each one is interesting in his or her own right- even the secondary characters. My personal favorites are John “The Hangman”, Daisy, Marquis, and Sandy Smithers. John is probably the most likable character of the bunch and Kurt Russell (almost unrecognizable under the thick beard), gives the character charm and wit. As the story unfolds, each character is mysterious and their motives unclear, which makes the film fun. Are some in secret cahoots with others? When someone poisons the coffee, a whodunit erupts. This is the beauty of the film- the characters motivations slowly come into play and a slow reveal occurs.
The gore/violence is fantastic. Without revealing too much, there are many deaths and the film is non-linear, the middle portion of the story occurring before the first section. In fact, to keep things organized, Tarantino divides the film into chapters, and at over three hours long, the film is a monster. I like how Tarantino features interracial an relationship (black inn owner Minnie and her white husband).
Favorite scenes include the vomiting blood sequence and the extremely brutal scene of severing of a characters arm. There is also the scene of Marquis dragging a victimized, naked soldier through the snow that is intense and shocking, involving a brutal sodomy.
As with all of Tarantino films, the characters are cartoonish and not to be taken completely seriously and the violence will undoubtedly offend some, but that is the beauty of his films. A masterful work by a masterful modern director.