In viewing this latest feature from the mind of Quentin Tarantino, it might be safe to say that there is probably not another storyteller quite the same. In saying that, Tarantino is probably an acquired taste to most people. I am always engaged in his unique style and use of dialogue and camera movement. The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s eighth feature film and holds nothing back. Although, it was a bit different than some of his other films it still delivered despite being a bit more expository through most of the film. All of the elements come together here to bring this Western whodunit mystery to life.
The action takes place in Wyoming during a blizzard where the characters are gathered together, much like an Agatha Christie mystery. Much of action takes place at Minnie’s haberdashery. Passengers from a stagecoach, on its way to Red Rock, take refuge from the brewing storm. Maj. Marquis Warren (played magnificently by Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-Union soldier of the Civil War, a rough bounty hunter John Ruth (a whiskered Kurt Russell), his handcuffed prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason-Leigh), Chris Mannix (a wonderful Walton Goggins), who claims to be Red Rock’s new sheriff, and the coach driver O. B. (James Parks) come in and meets another motley group at the haberdashery like Tim Roth, who plays Oswaldo Mobray, the new hangman of Red Rock, cowboy Joe Cage (Michael Madsen), Bob (Demián Bichir), a Mexican who claims to be keeping an eye on the place for the absent Minnie, and Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), a Confederate general.
As mentioned, it took a while for the story to really get going but Tarantino’s skillful use of dialogue, camera shots, and suspense building kept the story moving right down to the moment when we find the coffee poisoned, bullets start flying, blood spurts, and finally even a good old fashioned hanging. The way this story is told seemed somewhat reminiscent of Hitchcock and his way of building suspense. And when the story starts to unravel the mystery – BAM – the audience is pulled back and flashes back to the early part of that day before we meet estranged characters from the stagecoach. I was kind of waiting for this part too. In most of his films, he does not use a conventional linear line of storytelling (as this one was beginning to look like). He seems to jump and shift time to bring another sense visual storytelling.
As the flashback conveyed, it tied the story together in an intriguing way. And we finally find out why the characters have to keep nailing the front door shut every time someone enters or exits the building. We are fortunate to meet Minnie (Dana Gourrier), Six-Horse Judy (Zoe Bell), Sweet Dave (Gene Jones), and Domergue’s brother Jody (Channing Tatum) and a few others. The acting was excellent in bringing Tarantino’s words to life in his usual, in your face, entertaining way.
The Hateful Eight was a little different but still had the signs of a classic Tarantino film. That style is not seen often in many of the great visual storytellers of today. His creative mind always culminates in a style that can be pleasing and maybe a bit unnerving at the same time. He may not be for everyone, but he certainly doesn’t let that stop him from bringing his visions to the screen.