The Hateful Eight starts out very strong. Filmed in ultra-widescreen, it quickly confines all of its major characters to one large room, a haberdashery in Montana during a blizzard.
This one decision by director Quentin Tarantino is a minor stroke of genius. At any given time, we can see a huge amount of the environment, and yet we (and most of the characters) don’t know what’s going on, as it becomes clear that some of the snowed-in folks cannot be trusted. Their varying backgrounds and races and connections to the recent-past Civil War generate a great deal of distrust and discussion about everything from the war to the contradictions of justice.
Unfortunately, the resolution of this knotty story is less inspired. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just acknowledge that fans of Tarantino’s bloodier films will not be disappointed. Personally, I found the climactic violence too predictable and too disconnected from the intrigue set up in the movie’s first two acts.
Still, there’s enough to like here — including an excellent cast led by Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Walton Goggins — that I’m overall positive on The Hateful Eight. Recommended, cautiously.