Have you ever wondered what The Thing would be like if it was directed by Quentin Tarantino? Well his new film, The Hateful Eight, answers that question. And it’s a damn good answer.
Set in the years after the Civil War, The Hateful Eight is another masterpiece from Tarantino. Taking place almost entirely in a snowbound cabin and with a very small cast, its a brilliantly tense film that kept my eyes glued to the screen for the entire time. A bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) is transporting his latest catch (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to hang for her crimes, along the way he picks up another bounty hunter (Samuel L Jackson) and a former Rebel who is also the new sheriff of Red Rock (Walton Goggins). When a blizzard forces them to take shelter in a stagecoach stop along with a hangman (Tim Roth), a cowboy (Michael Madsen), an old army general (Bruce Dern) and a Mexican left in charge of the store by its proper owners (Demián Bichir) it soon becomes apparent that one, if not more, of them are in league with the captured bounty. It’s a pretty simple plot, but the cast bring some stellar performances to the table, making its near 3 hour running time pretty much fly by as you are drawn into the story.
As I said at the beginning of this, it’s very reminiscent of the seminal horror film The Thing (one of my own personal favorites of all time), with its snowbound setting, paranoid atmosphere and an excellent score by the great Ennio Morricone. It’s also similar to Tarantinos own film Reservoir Dogs, with its characters unsure of who exactly to trust. Its a very well filmed movie as well, with stunning shots of the snowy scenery and the tight confines of the main setting, Minnies Haberdashery. The main draw though is the brilliant performances by the cast. Walton Goggins in particular shines in his role, his character coming across as somewhat naive but with a hidden cleverness about him. I personally found his performance the most enjoyable in the film and I hope to see him in a lot more stuff from now on. Samuel L Jackson was brilliantly menacing, bringing to mind the acting of Lee Van Cleef in the Westerns of yesteryear. And Kurt Russell is brilliant as always, taking charge and badass as always. Everyone in the cast honestly gives it their all, drawing you in with their fantastic performances. Even when the acting was a bit on the hammy side, (looking at you Tim Roth.) it all made sense later in the film. But that may be entering spoiler territory so I will leave it at that.
Special credit should definitely go to Ennio Morricone for his brilliant score. From the start of the credits, its an almost menacing presence throughout the entire film. As soon as I heard it start I knew it would be stuck in my head for days afterwards. And kudos to Tarantino for using some of Morricones unused pieces from The Thing (to great effect I might add.) as well as tunes from the White Stripes and Roy Orbison. Whether you like his films or not, the man knows how to put together a fantastic soundtrack.
I know Tarantinos film aren’t for everyone, but The Hateful 8 is (in my own opinion) up there with the great Westerns, and deservedly so. It’s a tenses, thrilling piece of cinema, paying homage to both The Thing and Reservoir Dogs in both plot and setting and it is definitely worth a couple of hours of your time.