Quentin Tarantino’s eighth feature would obviously be highly anticipated by the large number of fans he has gathered over the past 24 years, yet may be even more so in light of his recent comments that he only plans to make two more films before retiring. Tarantino fans will not be disappointed with this latest offering which boasts many of the iconic Tarantino trademarks and delivers another fantastic tale.
The film begins a little slowly, with the opening scenes on a stagecoach ride proving to be less thrilling and captivating than the rest of the film’s events. However, while the dialogue may be less snappy and the scenes a little less enthralling, they feature important character and story development, revealing details that will come into greater play later on. It also allows a few of the key characters to be introduced individually, allowing the audience to get a greater grasp on their backgrounds and motivations.
When the stagecoach reaches Minnie’s Haberdashery, the film picks up its pace and begins to pulsate with the energy Tarantino infuses all of his films with. You are then introduced to the other characters, already at the Haberdashery, seeking solace from a snow storm. The introductions are fairly blunt, but this is something that works well with the film’s mystery aspect. Each actor is fantastic, bringing to life the characters so vibrantly, creating an ensemble to be reckoned with. The film then stays in the one room (aside from brief ventures a few metres outside the building and the odd flashback), yet never becomes any less captivating. As interactions heat up and confrontations begin, the single setting serves to heighten the tension for both the audience and the characters inside. There is also a brilliant recurring gag involving a broken door, providing briefly hilarious moments.
The film soon moulds into a ‘who-dunnit’ mystery, bringing everything you have learned so far about each character into question. It heightens the suspense that had been building slowly throughout the film, and builds slowly towards the film’s climax. This causes the film to take various twists and turns causing you to sway between characters in terms of your loyalty. Despite the inherent bad nature of these characters (the clue is in the title), you cannot help but enjoy watching them and even liking certain characters at certain times.
The film is littered with Tarantino’s hallmarks and calling cards, guaranteed to delight his fans. There are the moments of black comedy, pointed use of music as well as a lot of blood (I would even argue this is possibly his bloodiest film). As well as this, there is a return to sexualized violence in an expertly crafted yet chilling scene, which may be deemed unnecessarily excessive by some. The more eagle-eyed Tarantino fan will also spot the multitude of Easter Eggs, both the more obvious in his reuse of actors (Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Tim Roth included), as well as little nods to the ‘Tarantino Universe’ such as the use of Red Apple Tobacco, the same brand as the cigarettes the characters light up in Pulp Fiction.
Similarly, as is to be expected, from both Tarantino’s previous films as well as this feature’s single setting, the film is extremely dialogue heavy. However, also to be expected, the dialogue is absolutely brilliant. Each character really has their own voice and the interactions between them are fascinating as their conversations slowly reveal more about them and their motivations, as the dialogue is not limited to that which would drive the plot forward.
In his first film with a composed score, Tarantino, and the brilliant composer Ennio Morricone, use the music expertly at key moments in the film in ways that are both subtle, and, at times, intentionally intrusive. The music works perfectly in the film, adding to every scene, yet never overpowering it. It is also used to introduce the audience to the film, as the long opening shot gives little to focus on other than the music. Other music is also introduced at points and is used to great effect, such as a scene featuring a chilling rendition of ‘Silent Night’.
The film has some fantastic sequences, however this may cause the film’s final moments to seem a little brief to some, in comparison to some of the electrifying interactions that have come before it, however does successfully wind down from the explosive moments that come just before it.
Tarantino has crafted another brilliant feature sure to delight his fans, and, for some, will be a film they immediately want to revisit. It may not reach the lofty, iconic heights of some of his other films, but still makes for great viewing.