Quentin Tarantino is a director that needs no introduction. Most movie-goers know what to expect whenever they hear his name: engaging dialogue, black humour, bloody violence and an unpredictable plot.
The Hateful Eight is no different, filled with all the classic Tarantino traits that audiences have come to love since the far-gone days of Reservoir Dogs. Yet the film still manages to remain an interesting, edge-of-the-seat thriller, as the writer/director knows exactly what to change and what to keep the same to make his eighth feature-length picture a thoroughly riveting experience.
The story tells of eight unique characters in the old west, who all – thanks to a blizzard – get locked together in a cabin for three days, having to wait for the storm to subside. But as they spend more time together, it becomes clear that some of them aren’t who they claim to be…
The strongest element of The Hateful Eight comes in its characters. This is definitely a character film, with focus entirely on allowing the audience to witness eight totally different personalities play off of each other. This is a claustrophobic, suspenseful thriller that revolves entirely upon the unpredictable actions of a group of loose cannons: it is reminiscent of films like John Carpenter’s The Thing – which Tarantino himself has called a massive influence – and Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men.
And these great characters and interactions are created by a combination of intelligent writing from Tarantino and absolutely fantastic acting throughout, most notably from Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell as bounty hunters, and Tim Roth as a charming English hangman.
While the film is an undoubted master-class in the creation of suspense and tension, my only critique of The Hateful Eight is the excessive length of the build-up to all of the characters meeting at the cabin. Naturally, Tarantino is a director that relies on a large amount of slower-paced scenes and dialogues that contribute little to the narrative, purely with the intent of establishing his characters and making them more three-dimensional. But here, it is employed to the nth degree: the first hour alone only serves to introduce five of our eight characters, with the dialogue beginning to drag and become somewhat dull for audiences before the story truly begins to take shape. I’m not implying the entire build-up to the film’s main events is superfluous, but utilising a full third of the movie is somewhat excessive: halving that time to still allow for some interesting, introductory dialogue would probably work in The Hateful Eight’s favour.
But with that said, this is one minor flaw that is far from ruining the suspenseful experience that is Quentin Tarantino’s eight film. Once the second half of the film hits, the audience returns to being fully wrapped up in The Hateful Eight’s violent and intense paranoia.
While it is enormously far from ruining the name of “Quentin Tarantino”, The Hateful Eight probably doesn’t hold up quite as well when compared to the other masterpieces from the director, such as Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained. But it is still worth the viewing, and – aside from a few moments in its opening – is definitely not a waste of your precious time.