As someone who has admired Quentin Tarantino’s work for many years, the premise of The Hateful Eight, a small number of characters in an enclosed space, sounded familiar: Reservoir Dogs has the same set-up. However although it returns to an earlier formula, The Hateful Eight comes alive on screen with the usual blood, gore and violence that one would expect from a Tarantino epic.
The film opens with a beautiful backdrop of a snow topped mountain and a white blanket covering the rest of the scene. The gorgeous scenery is a pleasant contrast to the violence and devastation to come. With the calming coldness in the background, the unhurried dialogue and attention to detail serves to build the audience’s anticipation for the violence that awaits the characters behind the cabin door. When we meet the first half of the titular eight, the blatant racism (mostly directed towards Samuel L Jackson) comes forth and may even be a little overwhelming for some people. But, if you are familiar with Tarantino’s work then derogatory slurs that leave you cringing are only to be expected.
In terms of Tarantino’s work (Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Death Proof etc.), the brutality and violence of The Hateful Eight is just something to be expected, but the way in which the blood and gore is shown is a new take on the dark side of Tarantino and his love for all things bloody. The director is obviously influenced by the likes of Howard Hawkes’ Rio Bravo, as he closely monitors the eight characters, learning their stories (however fabricated) and keeping the madness in one location with little to no interaction outside of the cabin. Tarantino takes these influences and turns them into a completely different beast, showing off his cleverness, creativity and fondness for his previous works, of which he has every right to be proud. The Hateful Eight gives a few nods to his already loyal audience as he brings back the trusty brand of cigarettes, “Red Apple”, seen in almost every previous Tarantino feature, and using a similar credit font to that in Pulp Fiction, bringing a sort of familiarity to the audience, who expect the Tarantino they know, admire and eagerly anticipate.
Much like his previous work, no one on the casting list is safe and Tarantino makes sure that everyone, even the characters, know that. Whether it be the bear like bounty hunter Kurt Russell or the obvious choice in would be hero that lies within Samuel L Jackson, all bets are off as soon as the cabin door is once again nailed shut.
In addition to the brilliant story, the acting is near incredible. Jennifer Jason Leigh steals the show with every line she manages to spit out from underneath her broken teeth and bloody mouth. She fully commits to a performance as insane murderer Daisy Domergue, and never once lets go of the unhinged mind-set that comes with being a criminal. The others are lucky that she’s in shackles most of the time.
As the film carries on and we are given an insight, however brief, into every character’s background there is little out of the ordinary except the woman who is covered in blood and shackled to the very intimidating Kurt Russell. However, as disaster unfolds and the film carefully eases its way towards its three hour end, we find that none of the characters are who they say they are, apart from the ironically honest Daisy. Blood is shed, the cabin is turned into a morgue and Tarantino once again checks every box as he nails the door shut on his most recent and fantastic feature.