Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir
Getting acquainted with others takes time with a range depending on how extroverted and outgoing an individual is. In normal circumstances, it would make things easier, but when you huddle everyone together in a small haberdashery, with plenty of money on the line, safe to stay things will get dicey. This serves as the appetizing piece of this Tarantino picture and for all of its flaws, it certainly makes for a scrumptiously good time.
On his way to drop off a criminal to Red Rock, Wyoming to hang, John Ruth (Kurt Russell) encounters another bounty hunter trying to collect as well, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and new sheriff of the destination city, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins). With a raging blizzard forcing them to stop at a local haberdashery for a few days, they encounter more strangers. With trust at a premium, things begin to get testy.
Serving as a combination of an Agatha Christie story through the sensibilities of Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight offers up quite the tasty lineup of actors to get down to the mystery of each individual and exactly what they want. Filled with Tarantino regulars and some brilliant new additions, these eight individuals come with mixed motives, plenty of pistols, and one rickety little room as the safe harbor against the howling winds of the blizzard right outside.
The setting plays an integral part in this story seeing as they have no other choice but to stay within this small haberdashery. Going outside in the snow pretty much guarantees an early death, which makes the warm refuge surrounded by dangerous strangers quite the environment for all of these characters to protect what is theirs. Tarantino does such a good job in this facet of his direction. The scenes outside emphasize the warmth these characters feel once inside, and as a result, as an audience member, I felt the same way. I nearly shivered seeing the outside conditions and felt glad once all of the characters felt the warmth of the fire inside.
Set shortly after the Civil War, the impact of it continues to have reverberations with plenty of racists within this haberdashery. It makes it quite the unideal circumstance for Marquis seeing as, on top of the general mistrust all of these characters have for each other, he receives even less solely on the color of his skin. Heck, you even have a former general of the Confederate Army there, which pretty much sums up where Marquise finds himself, but it makes him even more of an engaging character.
As with all of Tarantino’s pictures, the star of the show will always be the writing and for better or worse, this feature demonstrates all of his tendencies. The way he breaks the ice with these characters and establishes their connections shows his ingenuity with his writing where you just have to sit in awe. However, an unsavory aspect comes with the racial slur used against African-Americans and the liberal application of it in this feature. The same critiques came with his previous feature, Django Unchained where it makes sense, this slur gets utilized when the film has many racists but it gets to a point where he appears to have too much fun applying it. Like, we get it, these people used this word but there have been plenty of features set in these time periods that found a way for a white screenwriter not to use the word on so many occasions. It comes with the territory with Tarantino and it does not take away from the quality of the work. More so, it just brings up questions of why someone with his writing ability and wit has to rely on it so heavily.
As this nearly 3-hour feature goes along, a sense of nihilism and overall meanness seeps into the conversations of these characters. It becomes evident many of these individuals are quite miserable and would love nothing more than to ruin someone’s day. From the misogynistic treatment of John Ruth’s prisoner, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to the blatant disregard of everyone else’s humanity. No one in the haberdashery could be described as a particularly good person, which may turn some people away, but at least for me, it allowed me to go with the fun Tarantino wanted to have with these characters as things begin to get wild.
Bloody, mean, cold, but still a jolly old time for the Christmas holiday, The Hateful Eight combines a group of unsavory characters trapped in a snowy refuge just in time for things to pop off. Attached to it is a riveting and wondrous score by the legendary Ennio Morricone, who finally won his Academy Award for his work here. The feature certainly feels too long and left me in several instances thinking of different scenes that could have been cut, but it all comes from the experience of watching a Tarantino flick. With all of the accusations of it being a bit too self-indulgent, I understand, but with an auteur like Tarantino, you just have to go with the vibes and let it ride.