Initial release: December 7, 2015 (Los Angeles)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Box office: 131.6 million USD
Budget: 44 million USD
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
This is the first Quentin Tarantino film that I have ever watched – I know that I’m late to the party – and while I don’t usually watch many Westerns, there was something about the trailer that really had me hooked and intrigued by this film. And while I didn’t find it a complete failure, I was expecting slightly more. I found the first two thirds of the film to be frightfully boring and the plot only seemed to pick up in the last third and by this time, I almost wanted the film to just finish. I did really enjoy the mix of characters and I can agree with all the critics in saying that all of the performances were superb. The whole atmosphere that the costume, music and setting created was really bleak and eerie and chilling and perfectly reflected the plot. I really did enjoy the story, but I just wish that the pacing in the first two thirds was quicker and well, more things actually happened. In the first five minutes of the film, the only thing that happens is a snow-covered statue receives a lot of close-ups. I did enjoy my first Quentin Tarantino – but was expecting slightly more on the plot front and the overall engaging quality of the film – but I’m definitely going to be checking out more of his works soon.
Some time after the Civil War, a stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. Bounty hunter John Ruth and his fugitive captive Daisy Domergue race towards the town of Red Rock, where Ruth will bring Daisy to justice. Along the road, they encounter Major Marquis Warren (an infamous bounty hunter played by Samuel L. Jackson) and Chris Mannix (a man who claims to be Red Rock’s new sheriff). Lost in a blizzard, the bunch seeks refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery. When they arrive they are greeted by unfamiliar faces: Bob, who claims to be taking care of the place while Minnie is gone; Oswaldo Mobray, the hangman of Red Rock; Joe Gage, a cow puncher; and confederate general Sanford Smithers. As the storm overtakes the mountainside, the eight travelers come to learn that they might not make it to Red Rock after all…
I love characters who are morally-ambiguous or who have a sense of mystery about them, and this film was full of characters like this. As always, I would have liked to see some more female characters – the ratio was literally 2 females to every 10 males – but every single character was interesting and really fleshed-out. Some characters underwent more characterization than others, but this is expected because among a cast of 8 main characters, there are always going to be some who receive more screen time. The main, main character of Warren was a very interesting and not very likeable character. He was very arrogant and conceited and actually quite sadistic – but Samuel L. Jackson brought his natural charm to a very scary character. I also liked Daisy’s character, because she was very strong-willed and driven and actually a very vicious character – and it was refreshing to see a female character portrayed in this way. Every single character was very complex and you thought that you knew everything about them, but it becomes clear as you move through the film that you really don’t know anything about them, and I loved this quality.
This film doesn’t have a clear plot right from the get go – you know that something is going to happen between these 8 characters but you aren’t quite sure what. And this fact alone – I am a rather curious person – kept me hooked to the film when the pacing was so, so slow that I almost wanted to give up. This film feels very blunt and bleak and this was communicated in every sense: the dialogue, the setting and all of the dramatic elements that were added to the film. The blood budget in this film was most certainly used, and while I don’t think it added too much to the plot of film, it certainly added some drama and also cemented the tone of the film – this certainly is not a kids film. There is a heck of a lot of blood, as well as a lot of swearing. But everything feels convincing and there was nothing in the film that I felt had been added ‘just for the sake of it.’ I think that a little more humour in this film would have sped the pace along, and would also have lightened the very bleak and blunt tone of the film that might not appeal to everybody.
This was my first Quentin Tarantino experience and while it might not have blown me away, it has certainly intrigued me and I’m definitely going to be checking out more of his works soon. I really liked the characters and the set-up of the film – and all of the historical details too.