‘The Hateful Eight’ Review

For his eighth film, ‘The Hateful Eight’, Director Quentin Tarantino certainly did not pull any punches.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russel, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins, Bruce Dern, Demian Bichir, and Michael Madsen, ‘The Hateful Eight’ (released Dec. 25, 2015) delivers nail-biting suspense that surges through a myriad of issues, including race and basic trust. The essential synopsis of the film entails a bounty hunter, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russel) who is trying to get his live fugitive, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to be hung. While travelling through post-Civil War Wyoming, his plan goes awry as a frigid blizzard hits the mountainous region. During his travel, he encounters another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and a man who claims to be the new Sherriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walter Goggins). When the group decides to seek refuge from the storm at a bed-and-breakfast/haberdashery, Ruth, Domergue, Warren, and Mannix meet the other four guests—Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), John Gage (Michael Madsen), former Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern), and Mexican Bob (Demian Bichir).
From there on, Tarantino crams a multitudinous amount of tension into the cozy little haberdashery. For example, some characters hail from former Confederate and Union backgrounds. Consequently, the rather neutral shelter that is the haberdashery soon becomes an isolated room full of racial tension. The overall uneasy relationships between the characters further escalate the situation as every person is introduced as a stranger; yet all develop to become threats to one another. A simpler way to put it would be a small room full of gunslingers, with no plans to make nice around the fireplace.
During an interview between Andrew Cooper of Entertainment Weekly and Tarantino, one of the questions asked, “Yet there’s so much in there about race that resonates true in 2015. The line where Walton Goggins says white folks are safest when blacks are scared. Then, Samuel L. Jackson turns it around, and says it’s only safe for blacks when whites are disarmed. Is all that stuff intentional or does that just sprinkle in during the whole evolution of the writing?” Tarantino responded, “Literally, it’s sprinkled in just during the hot-house environment of writing this piece. I felt that by throwing a black cavalry officer in the middle of this mix and knowing that I was going to have a Southern general and, like, the son of Quantrill in this mix, that I’d be kicking a can that deals with these issues. How much that can would be kicked and how much would spill out, that I didn’t know. And that was just the surface, the process of writing the material. The film that I ended up making ends up being a really serious examination of both the Civil War and the post Civil War survivors. But I really was coming more from a mystery angle, creating a little Agatha Christie thing. That was what got me putting pen to paper. Obviously, I knew I was going to deal with the Civil War. But I didn’t know it would end up being so serious when it came to that issue.”
Ultimately, whether Tarantino’s new film is a metaphor of modern-day America’s problems, or just a blood-soaked Western/Murder-Mystery throwback—or both, it is a brilliant film overall. The cinematography, the score (done by Oscar-nominated Ennio Morricone), the dialogue, the setting, and the characters all make the film excellent. As with most Tarantino films, the violence and gore is no surprise, however, this film has so much blood, it’s almost akin to a horror movie. And that’s another great thing about this film—it has something for everybody. Gore for the horror hounds, suspense and action for thrill seekers, and even comedy in the dialogue and relations between some of the characters. So even if there is no true, intentional, or concrete message behind the film, one thing’s for certain—if you stick a group of angry people in one room together for a few days, they are bound to tear each other apart… and that they do in ‘The Hateful Eight’.