If you ever wondered what a Quentin Tarantino directed adaptation of an Agatha Christie novel would be like, The Hateful Eight would be the best answer you’re going to get.
Witty, Violent but most of all, Entertaining, The Hateful Eight is classic Tarantino, and also, dare I say it, one of his best films yet. The film is set in a time period right after the conclusion of the American civil war and it basically revolves around eight people stuck in a cabin during a blizzard. Think Reservoir Dogs meets Django Unchained with a dash of Pulp Fiction thrown in, that’s the most bare-bones way to describe The Hateful Eight.
As for the characters,There’s Major. Marquis Warren (a brilliant-as-usual Samuel L Jackson), an African-American bounty hunter on his way to a town called Red Rock aiming to earn his bounty for a couple of wanted lowlifes that he’s killed, He hitches a ride with John “The Hangman” Ruth (Played by Kurt Russell) who’s also on the way to the same town to earn his bounty, with the only difference between him and Warren being that Ruth brings in his targets alive for hanging, and hence his moniker, “The Hangman”. His target is Daisy Domergue (Played savagely well by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and he’s hand-cuffed his left hand to her right, thus rendering both of them stuck to each other until they reach the aforementioned town of Red Rock. They’re joined by another hitchhiker named Chris Mannix (A breakout role for Walter Goggins) who’s backstory I will not delve into here.
The blizzard mentioned earlier forces them to cut short their trip and the 4 (including their carriage driver O.B, played by James Parks) take shelter in a haberdashery; where they find 3 other people, played by Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern and Demian Bechir. I will not go into anymore further details with regards to the plot, as I wish for you to experience this film as I did – completely fresh and unspoiled.
I will, however, say that this film plays around with something that Tarantino has become a master at – Tension.
Remember that extremely memorable opening sequence in Inglorious Basterds? The nerve-wracking suspense present in the scene? Well, in the hateful eight, Tarantino sustains such a tense atmosphere for almost the entirety of the running time, albeit with his trademark monologues, Dark (as in, super dark) humour and witty banter. Of course, there is a lot of violence and gore involved, but the slow-burning tension that precedes this burst of violence makes the impact of the same feel much more effective. Leave it to Tarantino to shoot an entire film inside a cabin and still make it as riveting and exhilarating as possible. Think 12 Angry Men but with a lot more swearing and violence.
When it comes to Tarantino’s work, I don’t even have to talk about the writing – It’s guaranteed to be excellent, and this film is no exception. Look out especially, for a monologue delivered by Sam Jackson in true Sam Jackson form – You know, the kind that he’s delivered in Pulp Fiction, Django or even this year’s fantastic Kingsman. The kind that guarantees that your eyes are going to be glued to the screen, all throughout the monologue, absorbing every word. It truly is a treat to behold. It is also a testament to Tarantino’s talent that he’s one of the few working directors that can make dialogues seem as interesting as an action sequence.
The performances are truly fantastic all around, with Kurt Russell, Sam Jackson, Walter Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh being the true stand outs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jason Leigh got nominated for Best Supporting Actress either. I’m not going to tell why; and for that, you’re going to have to watch this film in it’s full glory.
And speaking of watching the film in it’s full glory, it would be a sin to not talk about the cinematography in the film.
Spoilers, it’s excellent.
Tarantino wasn’t being pretentious when talking about the beauty of shooting on 70mm film and although, I was unable to watch the film on 70mm projection, The gorgeous snow-capped mountain ranges, the landscape shots and even the interior scenes look stunning on glorious super widescreen. I would be willing to rewatch this film, if only to take in those sights again. It’s a great example of a perfect marriage between filmmaker and craft.
The much hyped music by Ennio Morricone here is more subdued than his usual bombastic fare and consequently, may not be as memorable as his work on The Dollars Trilogy (Then again, what soundtrack is? with the exception of any of John Williams’ work of course) but then again, this film does not require overblown compositions, it requires subtlety (atleast until the blood letting starts) and that is exactly what Morricone’s score provides,at times to great effect.
Suffice to say, The Hateful Eight is yet another near-masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino and I loved every single moment of it. Try to watch it in theatres as soon as possible!
Money Moment: Sam Jackson’s monologue. Which one, you ask? Well, you’ll know it when you see it.