For me, 2015 was very much been the year of Quentin Tarantino. I was introduced to the controversial director in 2014 with the spaghetti western Django Unchained, and over the course of 2015 I watched all of his other movies that he had put out since 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. Each one of them, apart from Death Proof (and technically, Kill Bill Vol. 2, although I count both Kill Bill films as the same movie), fits in my Top 100 films list. No director comes anywhere close to achieving that track record apart from maybe Martin Scorsese or Christopher Nolan, and that says something about the quality of work the director puts out. Each of his films are their own, unique beasts that are individually excellent, usually very gory, usually well acted, and with a great soundtrack to boot. The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s latest film, a Western, released on Christmas Day in Theatres before undergoing a worldwide release on January 8, is no exception to that “rule”.
The film itself has an impressive cast, full of colourful, interesting characters with their own flaws, their own weaknesses. Its clear right from the start that there aren’t going to be any good guys here, after all, it’s called The Hateful Eight for a reason. The film is set in the aftermath of the Civil War and following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and stars Samuel L. Jackson as a Civil War Veteran, Major Marquis Warren, who, having witnessed the death of his old horse in a rapidly growing blizzard, happens upon John, “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell), famous for always hanging his victims whereas the Bounty Hunter Warren and most others in the business would simply shoot them. Ruth is carrying the criminal Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang, and along the way, they pick up a man claiming to be the new Sherriff of the town to where they are headed, Chris Mannix, played by Walton Goggins, coming off the back of a fantastic six year run as Boyd Crowder on Justified. However, they quickly find themselves caught in the blizzard and end up forced to wait out the storm with several others in a similar situation, including the likes of Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and more.
Each character has their own agenda and when the price on Daisy’s head is revealed the stakes get higher as The Hangman is determined not to let anyone claim the prize but his own. The film itself has been billed as the Western Reservoir Dogs, taking place mostly in one, small location and allowing tensions to boil over the edge. Yet at the same time the film feels fresh, as it tackles several interesting subjects and giving each of the actors plenty of screen time to pull off some of the excellent Tarantino dialogue, and everyone here is on top form. Goggins, Jackson, Leigh, Roth etc, they all excel, and there’s even a brief role for Channing Tatum, with the atmosphere created by the windy blizzard and the superb Ennico Morricone soundtrack really working well to enhance the scenes, especially the moments with added tension.
The film isn’t going to be for everyone with a few controversial moments and the around three hours long movie may put several people off but if you’re a fan of Tarantino or Western movies then chances are you’re going to enjoy this one. The Hateful Eight is a brilliant cinematic experience that’s one of the best films of 2015. I also think this might be one of the few (and the only) time that I’m actually glad that I wasn’t able to make it to my earlier bus, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to watch this masterpiece.