Film enthusiast, director and writer ‘Quentin Tarantino’ was first brought to the wide audience in 1992’s Sundance Film Festival with his first written and directed piece, Reservoir Dogs. Although this movie later received a merited cult following, this first showing was hellish, on an ill fitting screen and receiving mixed reviews; but nothing would stop the true cinephile and talent full Tarantino who went on creating motion pictures. He first made his mark in the history of cinema with ‘Pulp Fiction’ in 1994, and went on surprising the audience with blood filled Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained and of course, Kill Bill, amongst others.
In 2015, Tarantino outdid himself with The Hateful Eight, in which, a few years after the American Civil War, the bounty hunter, John Ruth (Kurt Russell), known as ‘The Hangman’, makes way towards Red Rock, where he intends to deliver his last prisoner, Dasy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), to hang. On route, they will meet Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), a bounty hunter converted ex-soldier, and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), Red Rock’s new Sheriff.
Trapped by a blizzard, they find refuge in Minnie’s tavern in the middle of cold and desolate mountains, where they are welcomed by four enigmatic personas:
The confederate (Bruce Dern), the Mexican (Demian Bichir), the cow puncher (Michael Manson), and the little man (Tim Roth).
While the tempest rages on, a series of deceits and surprising events will enrol; one of the hateful eight sheltering in the lodge isn’t who (s)he says (s)he is, and it’d be wise to think that not everyone will come out of the tavern alive.
Tarantino’s cinematographer (Robert Richardson)’s notorious use of 65mm film made The Hateful Eight the first anamorphic 70mm theatrical release in nearly 50 years. The dynamic camera movements and atmospheric use of a diversity of angles gives this film a cosy feeling, getting the audience close to all the characters, disabling you from forgetting any of them, even if they aren’t on the screen. This sense of near claustrophobia and involvement makes it all the more thrilling when the plot reveals itself on stage.
Conversely, a lack of attachment towards the characters is present and the absence of a clear protagonist (as you are left searching for the antagonist) detaches the audience from any sense of stakes; and although one may feel as if truly hunting for the liar inside the tavern, no one feels that any of the characters will be missed if they were to die in a steam of bullets and blood, as is likely in any and all Tarantino films.
Even though the director/writer threatened his studio that he wouldn’t go on with The Hateful Eight after his script was leaked online, the cast members, most of whom previously worked with Tarantino (notably Samuel L. Jackson, but also Kurt Russell, Michael Manson and Tim Roth), were undeniably comfortable with their characters, proof that the scenario was well thought out and capable to bring a complex story with ease, all while delivering the signature non-linearity and blood we all demand from a Tarantino movie.
Only the likes of Hitchcock’s Psycho equals the suspense portrayed in Minnie’s Tavern.
Only the likes of Lumet’s 12 Angry Men equals the tension felt for the eight uncontrollable characters.