If the board game Clue and John Wayne had a baby, it would look a lot like acclaimed writer and director Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” Witty humor and bloody violence shine through on his eighth film, “The Hateful Eight,” bringing audiences (and cult-like followers) one of the best cinematic experiences of the year.
Set in post-Civil War Wyoming, “The Hateful Eight” follows the story of a bounty hunter named John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell) on his quest to deliver his infamous prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason-Leigh), who is worth $10,000, to Red Rock. While attempting to beat the impending blizzard in their stagecoach, they encounter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a former Union soldier and pen pal to President Abraham Lincoln and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. “The Hangman” reluctantly gives Warren and Mannix a ride.
The group decides to take shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery until the blizzard passes. Upon their arrival, the group is greeted by a British hangman named Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), a quiet cowboy named Joe Cage (Michael Madsen), a Confederate general (Bruce Dern) and a Mexican named Bob (Demián Bichir), who claims to be looking after the place while Minnie is visiting her family.
This all seems fine and dandy, but there is one problem. “One of them fellas is not what he says he is.” As the eight strangers get cozy at Minnie’s Haberdashery for the night, it becomes clear that someone is working as Domergue’s accomplice. “The Hateful Eight” is a mystery game and the audience is playing. To win, you must know the answer to the question: Who is helping Domergue?
“The Hateful Eight” is filled with Tarantino all-stars. Six of the eight characters have previously worked on a Tarantino film. Bichir and Jason-Leigh were both new to the Tarantino set. However, the entire cast of “The Hateful Eight” was exceptional. It seems as though Tarantino pulls the best performances out of his actors. It was exciting to see actors from old Tarantino films make an appearance, but it was equally exciting to see how the new actors fit into the mix. Nominated for a Golden Globe Award, it is fair to say that Jason-Leigh had the best performance of the film as Domergue. With every new scene, I was shocked by how perfectly she portrayed a disgruntled murderer while remaining completely unfazed by the fact that she was going to be hanged as soon as the blizzard passed. Also noteworthy was Jackson’s performance as Warren. Jackson has an outstanding ability to intrigue you by simply standing in one place and talking for five minutes. It was an Oscar-worthy performance.
Perhaps the best thing about “The Hateful Eight” is the story. Tarantino’s writing was phenomenal. After watching the mystery unfold, it is clear to see all of the little details that Tarantino planted throughout the film that serve to tell the whole story. It is an impossible mystery to solve, which makes it more entertaining. And the Tarantino twist that is revealed toward the end will completely shock you. You will never see it coming. Do not leave the theatre during the film if you want to understand the mystery. Go to the bathroom before, because every scene matters. Not surprisingly, the screenplay is nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Alongside his writing, Tarantino’s directing of the film is incredible. With the exception of the opening scene, the entire movie takes place at Minnie’s Haberdashery. While that is a lot of story to be told in one room, you are completely entertained the whole time.
“The Hateful Eight” displays one of Tarantino’s most beloved and controversial traits: political incorrectness. If you hated all of Tarantino’s previous films, you’re not going to start liking them now. The same rules apply to “The Hateful Eight” as they do any Tarantino film. Blood and guts are rampant. The “N-word” is used more often than not in reference to Jackson’s character. And Jason-Leigh suffers more beatings than any male character in the film. Tarantino is committed to telling the story the way it would actually happen in that time period, which is good for some viewers and bad for others.
I personally enjoy the experience of watching a Tarantino film because of his controversial film tactics. Where other directors would show the entire fight scene right up to the head being blown off and then cut away, Tarantino shows a close-up of the brain splattering on the floor. It’s things like the brain blowing up on screen that make Tarantino films more than just a movie but rather an experience. Just don’t expect to have an appetite when it’s over.
Tarantino’s attention to detail was also expressed by his decision to film the entire movie on Ultra Panavision 70mm film. If “The Hateful Eight” wasn’t already a hit with the western fans, it is now. The Ultra Panavision 70mm film completely transports you to the glory days of western films and for three hours you do not exist in the world of technology and gadgets — you are watching a good ol’ 1940s Hollywood western film.
“The Hateful Eight’s” only flaw is that the film progresses rather quickly just as you start to gather enough information to solve the mystery. The pace of the beginning doesn’t quite match the pace towards the end. But with that said, the ending scenes are the best. The fight scenes have a perfect balance of action and humor.
“The Hateful Eight” is a mystery. It is also a western. It is also a comedy. And it is also action-packed. It is everything you would expect from Tarantino and then some. If you are a Tarantino newcomer, you will be completely overwhelmed with how impressive every aspect of the film is. If you are an avid Tarantino fan, there is no way you will be disappointed by this movie. In fact, it might become one of your favorites. “The Hateful Eight” is one of Tarantino’s best films yet and definitely tops the chart of movies in 2015.
Collegian Reporter Randi Mattox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @randimattox.