This week’s DVD release sees filmmaker Quentin Tarantino return to the Western genre with his trademark, blood-spattered style. We’re looking at The Hateful Eight.
In his last outing, Django Unchained, Tarantino delivered a story of bounty hunters amidst the brutality of slavery in the south of the USA. The Hateful Eight takes us to a time after the American Civil War and although slavery has been abolished, brutality still looms large.
The film is based on a fairly basic set-up. A harsh winter storm forces an unlikely group together in a remote wild west outpost. The film title refers to the eight main characters and it’s an accurate description. They’re a pretty hateful bunch.
Kurt Russell plays John “Hangman” Ruth, a bounty hunter taking murderer Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, to Red Rock by stagecoach in order to collect a reward. He comes across the stranded fellow bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren, played by Samuel L Jackson, and it isn’t long until they’re thrown into an uneasy alliance.
The arrival of a semi-reformed confederate soldier and soon-to-be Sheriff of Red Rock Chris Mannix, played by Walton Goggins, ups the tension in the stagecoach. As the storm worsens the group are forced to take shelter with some strangers, and the body count starts to rise.
Much like Django Unchained, Tarantino’s latest draws heavily from the Spaghetti Western tradition, complete with a soundtrack by the great Ennio Morricone. With a cast of memorably rancorous characters and an unflinching approach to violence the filmmaker is in familiar territory.
What’s also familiar is the stylistic flourish of the film. The cinematography is fantastic, capturing the wild and unruly nature of the Old West, and creating a sparse backdrop for the brutal events which unfold.
The pacing is less successful. It’s a long film and much of it is spent indulging a wordy script which doesn’t say an awful lot. Still, if you can forgive the odd slow segment there’s enough in The Hateful Eight to keep you watching until the bloody finale.