By Lillian Firth
“The Hateful Eight” recently debuted as director and writer Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie, hence part of the reason for the play on words in the film’s title. Some fans were worried the movie would not live up to the high standards placed on Tarantino following his two recent hit films, “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” yet viewers were certainly not disappointed. “The Hateful Eight” somehow makes a movie that takes place in one setting — a snowed-in cabin in the middle of nowhere during the 1800s — incredibly interesting.
One of the most notable aspects of the movie is the unique plotline that pulls in the viewer almost immediately. The film starts by introducing bounty hunter John Ruth (played by Kurt Russell) being pulled in a horse-drawn carriage in a heavy snowstorm, transporting a wanted murderer, Daisy Domergue. On the way, he picks up Major Marquis Warren (played by Samuel L. Jackson), a retired black officer from World War II, along with a supposed sheriff named Chris Mannix, who is very racist. They are forced to stay in a cabin overnight because of the impending blizzard, and when they arrive, a paranoid John suspects the other guests at the cabin to be involved in a plot with Daisy. The guests include a hangman, a traveling cowboy, an old Southern general and a Mexican stable head.
As a viewer, because John is set up as a paranoid character from the very beginning, the suspicion is easily scoffed at. That is, until it becomes evident that he is correct. The movie soon turns into a scramble to uncover which dangerous person is there to help Daisy escape. Lots of bloodshed, schemes and heated arguments follow. All the while, the mysteries of who is helping Daisy, and why, still linger in the air.
The characterization in the movie is very impressive. Tarantino takes time to make the characters seem realistic, unlike how many directors in Hollywood cut out the boring stuff. They have long, sometimes unnecessary and trivial conversations, but Tarantino makes it work. The conversations are interesting and realistic, and they uncover the personalities of the characters without explicitly stating them.
Each character is complex: John is paranoid, but immediately trusts the wild stories that Marquis tells him about the war. Marquis is black, yet despite the time period, does not cower before the white men in his presence. Although Marquis is a character you root for, he reveals some evil he’s done in the past with no remorse. Chris is racist and somewhat less intelligent than the other people there, but is very skittish and actually has a conscience, despite his despicable views. The hangman, Mobray, is a genial, stay-out-of trouble character, but seems to take immense joy in his job of hanging criminals. The cowboy, Gage, is shy and brooding, yet talks about visiting his mother for Christmas.
The characters should be unrelatable in the time period and circumstances they are found in, yet they are very believable and each has flaws and different layers of contrast that everyday people would have.
Critics of the movie claim that it does not have the same amount of action as Tarantino’s previous films and that it moves a bit slow. On the contrary, the way that he develops a complicated and interesting plot just through his characters and the conversations they have is the exact brilliance of the movie. And of course, there is the underlying mystery that the viewer is trying to solve, picking out little details in these seemingly-insignificant conversations to see if there are any hints as to who is part of the scheme. Tarantino doesn’t disappoint with lacing violence in the plot, either. Like many of his films, the finale goes out with a bang (literally and figuratively), to get rid of the slow tension that was built over the last three hours of conversation. And honestly, Tarantino fans are always ready for a bloodbath.
To anyone who is looking for a new movie to watch this winter, “The Hateful Eight” is truly an interesting piece that will satisfy even the most critical cinema-lover. Tarantino really took his time to perfect this movie. With the positive turnout and hard work put into it, it is clear that Tarantino is continuously able to deliver hits.