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Film Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)




This is a western in the snow, simple as. Quentin Tarantino does great storytelling as only he can do, with his eighth gift to the film industry, aptly named The Hateful Eight. Set in a Wyoming winter, audiences are treated to a long intro of snowy landscapes and crystal blue skies that are beautifully metaphoric to the story at hand, providing a serene backdrop for all the violence that’s sure to come (it’s a Tarantino film after all). The style of photography has become synonymous with Tarantino, taken from his Western favourites of Rio Bravo (1959) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). But this is more than just a “pistols at dawn” parade.

The film has a slow but intriguing lead in as the audience is introduced gradually to a few of the "hateful eight" characters, first with Samuel L Jackson sat in the middle of the snow with a storm beckoning ahead of him. Look closer and you’ll see that his seat is actually a pile of frozen bodies. Just in case you had any doubt that this was a Tarantino film.

A carriage arrives containing a bounty hunter nicknamed “The Hangman”, played by Kurt Russell as he transports his prized prisoner to the town of Red Rock. His hilarious, ruthless but oddly moral character leaps off the screen, providing the humour Tarantino favours best, with one-liners and sarcastic remarks. The ‘Bonnie’ to Russell's ‘Clyde’ is Jackson, returning for his sixth go on the Tarantino merry-go-round. It should be said that he outdoes himself in a role that was probably written for him, as the ex- Major who fought for the north in the American Civil War, now turned feared bounty hunter and destroyer of racists that might cross his path.

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue, The Hangman’s prisoner, garners no sympathy from the audience in a brilliant performance as the slack-jawed murderer of an unknown number of victims, although as the film progresses you begin to question whether her numbers really surpass any of the others.

The story is a simple one; all eight are trying to make it to Red Rock when a storm hits, and are forced to take shelter together in a haberdashery. As expected of Tarantino, the film is notoriously long (almost three hours), and with a newly introduced narrator halfway through, the film takes a slightly disjointed journey back in time. This remains however, relevant to the overall schematic of things, and doesn't take away from what we know will be an exciting but bloody ending, regardless of whom you're rooting for.

Other Tarantino favourites Tim Roth and Michael Madsen make this film an enjoyable and hearty feast of witty dialogue, blood and gore; with just enough melodrama to make it much more humour than horror.

I give it a grateful eight. I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist.

Written by Maame Blue

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