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Not Much to Hate in The Hateful Eight

January 18, 2016

    When you think of Quentin Tarantino, you think "action". What drives this motion picture, however, is not sword-flaying samurai or gun-slinging cowboys. No, a compelling cast, a simplistic plot, and a quaint locale are what make this movie so great. The Hateful Eight, the 8th movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, is a mystery film set after the end of the Civil War, in snowy Wyoming. While being still Tarantino-esque, containing its fair share of head-splattering gun fights and gruesome blood-filed vommit, The Hateful Eight certainly has its own unique flair. Combined with a compact setting in a small general store during a blizzard, and a group of well-cast actors, this movie shows that Tarantino can craft a well scripted flick with more dialogue rather than bloodshed. 
    The Hateful Eight does something better than any movie which has been released in 2015: it creates suspense. All we know at the beginning is that John Ruth (Kurt Russel), "the hangman", looks to hang Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a wanted convict, in the town of Red Rock for a sum of $10,000. As they travel along the roads of mountainous Wyoming with his stage coach driver O. B. Jackson (James Parks), another bounty hunter asks for a ride to transport his bounties, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). Brilliantly, Tarantino brings him into the film using credibility, as Warren has a letter from Abraham Lincoln to show he can be trusted. Along the way, another straggler is added to the group, the supposed new sheriff of Red Rock, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who asks for a ride. When a blizzard catches up with the stage coach, the group is forced to take refuge inside Minnie's Haberdashery, a general store isolated in the middle of Wyoming. Here, the five travelers will meet four people all hiding from the storm, Bob "the Mexican" (Demian Bichir), Oswaldo Mobrey (Tim Roth), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), and General Sanford "Sandy" Smithers (Bruce Dern).  This is where most of the movie will take place and it sets the tense tone as it is a small room filled with nine inhabitants, all understanding the price on Daisy's head.
    The excellence of this film comes from the setting. Forcibly trapped, and with a prisoner worth thousands locked inside this room, what could possibly go wrong? Inevitebly, when everyone begins to tear one another apart, the plot slowly reveals itself to be something much more complex. Not knowing why events take place is an obvious part of a mystery, but the way Tarantino reveals the movie's true meaning is both climactic and ingenius. 
     Racial prejudice plays a large role, as the inhabitants of the haberdashery depict a microcosm of post-Civil War society filled with uncertainty and bigotry. Today, most directors tend to shy away from this issue and focus on other boiling topics. However, when pitting a former confederate general, General "Sandy" Smithers, with an African American bounty hunter, some tense and harsh, yet necessary dialogue is created. A controversial scene in which Jackson describes the rape of a white confederate takes its toll on the viewer and can be uncomfortable, however it does truly embody the time period and fuels the fire between the two characters. The Hateful Eight somehow manages to keep the moviegoer on their toes the entire time despite feeling trapped inside this one area, and it is with these plot points that drive the suspense. 
    After knowing the true nature of all those locked in the haberdashery, violence unfurls. Usually in a Tarantino movie, this is the high point. However, the major flaw is certainly when the plot and the build up are almost lost in the gunfire. Loose ends aren't tied up and major questions cannot be answered. It's almost as if the script stops after the first pull of a trigger. The amazing acting and climax certainly overshadow the plot-avoiding faults, however if Tarantino had given more closure to the characters' storylines after the gunshots, this movie may have well been his best work. Instead, they just rot on the floor as the movie comes to a close. One could say that the director doesn't add closure for a reason. Now, the audience can decide the fate of the characters, or maybe he wants to leave room for a sequel. You just never know how Tarantino will surprise his viewers.
    The Hateful Eight delivers a complex array of characters, perfectly trapped together in a shrewd environment creating ultimate suspense and tension. When problems of race, money, power, greed, and fear all come together, a fitting battle takes place, serving as the long-awaited climax to a great movie. This violence in some ways does take away from parts of the story which were for so long built-up, however a satisfactory end and strong acting certainly help ease this pain. This movie, not one for kids, should be seen by all movie lovers, regardless of what genre they prefer. The Hateful Eight displays Tarantino's new and improved story-telling abilities, driving home a true Western-style thriller-mystery in a bloodily ingenious fashion. 


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