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The Hateful Eight
Genre Western

The Hateful Eight is a Quentin Tarantino film, which has drawn inspiration from The Thing and Reservoir Dogs. The crime drama mystery western is set more than a decade after the Civil War and follows a stagecoach, as a bounty hunter and his passengers find shelter in a cabin inhabited by some mysterious strangers.

Tarantino's film features a star-studded cast headlined by Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell, with stellar performances from Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern. Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson are Tarantino favourites, with Russell having starred in Deathproof and Jackson in Pulp Fiction. They return to get the ball rolling in this obscure and claustrophobic western that tips the hat to the cast and their cinematic history.

The Hateful Eight is like 12 Angry Men in the way the majority of the film takes place in one room with each character bringing their own agenda and prejudices to the table. As an ensemble drama, it crackles with life as each eccentric character is examined. Instead of deciding the fate of one man, however, they're forced to act on their suspicions as more information comes to light.

It's also similar to Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians as the rough crew try to wheedle out the bad guy by process of elimination. The twists-and-turns keep each of the characters alert and paranoid as a complex game of psychological strategy unfurls.

The isolated cabin, Major Marquis Warren and gore echo The Evil Dead. While not as grotesque, the flippant comic book tone and claustrophobic horror of an evil lurking among them keeps things tense. The blustery Wyoming winter recalls The Thing as the strangers form, storm and test allegiances... sealed in for the night and at the mercy of their own wits.

The Reservoir Dogs overlay is what makes this tense bounty hunter showdown a Tarantino western as the fog of injustice rolls in. The central location, blood-letting, air of suspicion and casting of Michael Madsen and Tim Roth reinforce this influence.

Much like Django Unchained, there's a crude and fascinating racial commentary at play as a revered former union soldier turned bounty hunter resets the values of his counterparts by way of authority and infamy. Even more curious is The Hateful Eight's depiction of women, specifically the grotty Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. He pokes at these elephants in the room to provoke thought on a social level, which ironically filters back into the Hollywood system.

While the thought of a Tarantino western sounds like the next Kill Bill, this isn't a mainstream film. In fact, it's difficult to place mostly due to Ennio Morricone's soundtrack, the tumbrel pacing and almost single location setting. The mostly commercial Tarantino-certified cast, suspenseful dialogue, ultra-violence action and film references would have you believe otherwise, but it sits in an entertaining limbo, much like its maniacal characters.

We're never really backing any one of the hateful eight, although Samuel L. Jackson would be the closest thing to a lead. While the stagecoach ride seems like the long way around to circumventing a road trip and filling the cabin with lunatics. The inventive cinematography and wild collective of characters are good enough to keep the destination fresh, but the overall feeling is a bit stale and rarely alleviated by its dark comedy.

The bottom line: Intricate

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