With more homage than ever, Tarantino’s latest might not show a director at the top of his creative powers, but it does show an artist at the top of his craft. The Hateful Eight is as crass and thrilling as we’ve come to expect from the ageing enfant terrible, but it’s also his most well-contained masterpiece: an intricate Hitchcockian mousetrap with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s rabid Daisy Domergue as its piece of cheese. We’re in Wyoming a few years after the American Civil War. Domergue is a lucrative captive being taken to hang by a bounty hunter named John Ruth. They pick up another bounty hunter (Jackson) and the new sheriff en route. A snowstorm hits and the group is forced to hole up in an isolated haberdashery along with a hangman, a former Confederate general, a Mexican and a cowboy. But is everyone who they claim to be? Over the next three hours, Tarantino provides a master class in audience control, teasing our 21st-century blood lust with old-school tension building techniques while opening up those lingering Civil War wounds. He knows exactly what ride he’s on and – with Ennio Morricone’s tinkling xylophone – he strings the audience along with him.
The Hateful Eight | Directed by Quentin Tarantino (USA 2015) with Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Starts January 28
Originally published in issue #146, February 2016.