John Ruth (Kurt Russell from “Death Proof “) is taking his prized bounty Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh from “Welcome to Me“) to Red Rock to collect his $10,000 reward. He is not happy when they have to give a ride to Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson from “Chi-Raq“) and rescue him from an impending blizzard. They pick up another guy, and you start counting since you know there will be eight.
They arrive at Minnie’s Haberdashery where a few other scoundrels are already hanging out. John Ruth is certain that some or all of them are up to no good and plan to either free Daisy or take her for the reward. John is not wrong.
From this one room shack, the Agatha Christie kind of mystery unfolds in a radical and racist manner befitting of men from recent post Civil War Wyoming. Once the pieces are finally set on the chessboard, the gruesome games begin.
This movie is what you get from a pure auteur filmmaker who has no studio or producer to question him. I imagine those around him do raise things to his attention and are met with responses like, “No, you are wrong, and it’s going to be so cool.” Further proof of this is Tarantino telling us via voiceover what is happening and why it is so cool. At least he realized this was a short story made long and gave us an intermission.
The opening sequence, really the first third of the movie, involved so much stilted dialogue and exposition I thought the story was going to freeze to death. This may work for a play, and in smaller portions with some of that Tarantino-esque dialogue, but much of this felt like a high school play. Tarantino’s storybook approach to storytelling with his chapters and flashy flashbacks do not serve this story well. This novel approach has worked well for him in the past, but to me this felt tired and unnecessary. To keep big secrets swept under the rug until he needed to shock and surprise us just came off as lazy.
I like Tarantino, and his movies. I even like his special style of movie making. With this film I think he was so excited about the concept and once the script was leaked, he rushed to jack up the plot and get it out to his public. While the movie was entertaining, I could see and hear Tarantino trying too hard to shock me with his special hipster/gangster vision. If I had seen it in a drive-in theatre in 1974 I would be talking about for weeks, and for that reason I must give this movie 3 stars out of 5. What I look forward to is a new Tarantino movie that will break new ground and not just bathe old movie genres in new blood.
Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site: https://bashmovies.wordpress.com