Review: The Hateful Eight

From the moment I saw the trailer and the cast line-up for The Hateful Eight I knew I had to see it. Described as a cross between Agatha Christie and a Western, this film definitely fits the bill and is another example of the brilliance of Tarantino.

The film opens with an old western style credits scene, with garish yellow typography evoking the heritage which Tarantino is drawing from. The first scenes take place across a blindingly white snowy landscape, made all the more beautiful by the cinematography with choice to use 70mm film a brilliant one. While I didn’t see any of the special screenings for this, even the standard viewing was gorgeous with light leaks and sun glare making the practically arctic setting even more atmospheric; I could practically feel the cold.

Tarantino’s storytelling was taken to a whole new level with the use of numbered and titled chapters to break up the story line. This technique is later accompanied by a voice-over and flashback to change the narrative perspective, which is a sharp shock to the audience who have become utterly immersed in the story so far. It does however show Tarantino’s skill in developing a narrative that can engross, shock, distance and then captivate his audience.
The cast for the film is just important as the director himself, with Samuel L. Jackson playing a freed-slave and ex-Union solider now turned bounty hunter in the years after the civil war. This sets up some incredibly interesting racial politics, as many of Tarantino’s works do, which come to drive the action of the film. Jennifer Jason Leigh is brilliant as the seemingly mad and terrifying Daisy Domergue, who is the murderess being taken to Red Rock for hanging. She is hilariously funny, immensely engaging and slightly grotesque all at the same time.

An oncoming blizzard forces a collection of colourful characters, and strangers, to stay at Minnie’s Haberdashery with racial and political tensions soon rising. Walter Goggins as the supposed new sheriff of Red Rock, is excellent, with a commanding presence and huge personality, reminiscent of Boyd Crowder in Justified, but not a straight imitation, illustrating that while Goggins has a particular style, he is more than a one trick pony.

The pace is slow at first but builds up to an incredibly scene where Samuel L Jackson’s character confronts the former confederate general staying there also. This scene is testimony to the power of both Tarantino and Jackson, being violent, chilling and hugely uncomfortable, without spilling a drop of blood, but also being immensely comical at the same time. From here the story really takes force, with the twist and the ending unraveling before you can even guess what will happen

Overall this was a fantastic film, and I would rate it very highly all round, being visually arresting, with some brilliant performances, and with incredible direction, a combination which make for truly engaging and entertaining storytelling.

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