Since I’ve never technically reviewed a film from Quentin Tarantino, I should probably start off this review by saying that I’m a huge fan of his work. I know that’s a bit of a cliché, especially for a guy in his twenties, but I truly believe he’s one of the greatest filmmakers working today. I love his characters, his trademark dialogue and his over-the-top violence. If I had to pick one director today whose sensibilities seemingly fall right in line with mine, Mr. Tarantino would be very close to the top of that list.

So it goes without saying that I was eagerly anticipating his 8th film, The Hateful Eight. Tarantino said he planned on cancelling the film after the script leaked in early 2014, but after a successful table read, he decided to once again move forward with the project. It’s a good thing that he did because this film really wowed me. All year I’ve been waiting for a film to come along that blows me away and this is one of the only films that was able to do so. Tarantino’s managed to top his last western, Django Unchained, with a mean, violent and sinister whodunit set in the years after the Civil War. The entire cast brings their unique personalities to memorable characters who effortlessly spout off Tarantino’s trademark dialogue. It’s a film that absolutely oozes his style and will keep audiences guessing until the very end.

A stagecoach creeps past a statue depicting Jesus on the cross as its passengers hurtle towards an inevitably bloody conclusion. Inside the stagecoach is John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter who is transporting known outlaw Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock to await execution. As a strong blizzard approached, the stagecoach encounters Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and newly appointed Sherriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), both of whom are seeking refuge from the coming storm. The group ends up at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a small lodge that is also being occupied by a Mexican servant (Demián Bichir), a hangman (Tim Roth), a cowpuncher (Michael Madsen) and a Confederate General (Bruce Dern). But one of these men is holding a secret and it’s enough to turn Minnie’s Haberdashery into a bloodbath.

Split into six different chapters, The Hateful Eight is a long movie that takes its time in telling its story. Like most of Tarantino’s previous works, 90 percent of this film is dialogue and yet it still somehow feels like it’s action-packed from start to finish. Tarantino has a knack for creating intriguing characters that instantly suck you in. From the moment we’re introduced to Ruth, Warren and Domergue, we want to know their stories. The casting in the film is seemingly perfect, with each character actor memorably defining their role. Every line of dialogue that’s delivered adds further depth to these characters, especially when secrets are revealed towards the film’s conclusion.

Other than the first two chapters, the majority of the film takes place entirely inside Minnie’s Haberdashery, allowing the film to feel much more like a single location stage play than a typical western. This works to the film’s benefit because its central mystery is extremely intriguing and the single location setting allows for the audience to experience the paranoia that has seeped into the characters. Along with the general mystery that drives the film forward, Tarantino also has a few other twists up his sleeve that only the luckiest of moviegoers will be able to see coming. As certain secrets and character motivations are revealed, it becomes clear that this is a film that will be viewed entirely differently on a second watch.

I could probably go on and on with all of the things that I loved about this film, but the best thing I can possibly do is shut and up and tell you to see the film for yourself. With the aid of a deliciously sinister score from Ennio Morricone and great cinematography by Robert Richardson, this is Tarantino and his crew firing on all cylinders. Some people may find its mean characters and ridiculous violence to be a turn off, but they’re missing the point. Tarantino is holding up a mirror to humanity and showing us that these racist, hateful murderers might not be that far off from the people we interact with every day. And even if the film provides viewers with a  harsh outlook on humanity, its final moments optimistically suggest that even the most absolute of enemies can one day peacefully find some common ground. Bloody, brutal and an absolute blast, The Hateful Eight proves that even though we may live in a cruel world, it’s still a great time to go to the movies.

The Hateful Eight receives 4/4