Chapter I: Last Stage to Red Rock
The opening credits rolled and within minutes I realized that this film was going to be tense. It is strange to see this level of a tension appear in a movie only five minutes in and it is even stranger to see it come up before adding character development. Tarantino puts an enormous amount of trust in his characters. I was immediately taken by the gravity of it all. The violence in the movie never takes a break; the entire movie has aggressive dialogue and paired with the gore later on makes the entire experience delightfully cruel.
Jackson’s character, the Major, is set apart by his high honored position he has gained by essentially being Abraham Lincoln’s pen pal. Surprisingly, the Hangman is made to be one of the more charismatic characters in the cast, which is not saying much. Now the interesting aspect of this captive is not actually her. She honestly is pretty bland for most of the movie; what sets her poorly bland personalities apart from other films is that she is only slightly more important than leading one plot point to the next. The story, in effect, is in medias res because of her supposed actions and backstory. Being set after the civil war gives every character a tad more importance because they do not need to waste any time explaining the established hardships of common life.
Chapter II: Son of a Gun
There is not a single Quentin Tarantino movie that does not have a self-aware, ridiculous play for humor and I admit the jokes are usually very funny and very admired due to Tarantino’s cinematic trademark; blood-lust.
However, I am not particular fond of the idea of this joke being the introduction to one of our characters. Apparently a “man out in the cold” is going to be the new sheriff of the town that Daisy is going to be hanged. The witty personality of the new sheriff is hard to judge because I never know whether I should like him. I want to give the film credit for this because it adds a layer of questionability to whether or not a single thing he says is legitimate.
When they decide to let him in, they take full advantage of that time-period dialogue, talking about the war. Another very smart idea, they use the war as a way to show each person has a vague idea of who the other person is. Once again, that pesky snow storm is kicking up so these four are going to be forced to stop at Minnie’s Haberdashery.
A thought crossed into my mind while watching this and prayed that they won’t say “Hey I recognize you from such and such…” to another random man in the blizzard. While watching this chapter I did not seem to enjoy this chapter as much as the rest of the movie, but looking back this chapter was definitely necessary, and the most humorous.
Chapter III: Minnie’s Haberdashery
This is the longest chapter of the story, but if we were to take all the moments where Samuel L. Jackson looks at something, or remembers something weird without the dialogue following, one could make it an episode of Scooby-Doo. Although they overdo it a tad it serves its purpose. So the four get to the Haberdashery to be greeted by the other four who they are not expecting.
Our unexpected guests include a cowboy, a general, the one providing the noose and the one who has taken over Minnie’s Haberdashery. Characters are introduced. Daisy Domergue is handcuffed. Everyone is questioned. They exclaim they are stuck. All the guns are taken up because no one is trust worthy.
These scenes, are great because they are intertwined with learning about the four new characters in the story. The “one of these is not like the other” plot gives the film a 1982’s “The Thing” vibe, which may seem weird for a crime drama, but the claustrophobic and gory elements make it feel right at home. The final scene in this chapter is quite infamous for anyone who has already seen the film.
The dialogue is pulled from a pure horror script. It is cringe worthy and Samuel L. Jackson is absolutely ruthless. All this scene provides us with her first taste of death. Although this scene is horrendously brutal, it is a prime example of how great the dialogue is between the eight people trapped inside.
Chapter IV: Domergue’s Got a Secret
After the dark scene we just witnessed, the film takes a humorous turn before cranking the violence up to eleven. A narrator for the first (and last) time tells us why Domergue has a secret. A poison has been placed by someone, and the usual conversation starts building tension on who is going to be the first to drink it. Around this moment of tension is when the movie seems about ready to come to a close. Yet our mystery of “who did it?” has yet to be answered as the body count raises and we get a close up head shot scene.
The plot thickens once again as Samuel L. Jackson is shot through the foot through the floor boards. We get the first shot of the basement, which hid our cameo for the evening, Channing Tatum. This chapter transformed the harsh dialogue from the first three chapters and gave it more purpose. Fear is in everyone’s eyes and at the end the audience will seriously question who will survive.
Chapter V: The Four Passengers
This movie likes to take its sweet time explaining things; usually it is through speeches or plot twists, which usually just leads into more unanswered question. I was quite pleased that chapter five was a prequel, as in the events of all the people who were in the haberdashery before chapter one started. The huge problem with this chapter, I have decided, is it is very predictable. Honestly the scenes could have been shot ten minutes shorter, and the film starts to drag on once we get the facts.
Chapter VI: Black Man, White Hell
The blood bath continues and finally concludes here. Kicking off with 3 deaths without beating an eye, half the set is now covered in a deep red. The mayor, Daisy who’s still handcuffed to Kurt Russel, and Samuel L. Jackson’s character who has a shot up foot, are now the only ones left.
Now, that Daisy is no longer a McGuffin, she starts to develop character. The film is at its darkest here, and if it was not as bitter through the rest of the film as it was, the scenes here would be uncomfortable to watch.
Strangely enough, if you can stomach the film this chapter has some good humor. The end of the film is of course left up to interpretation, and it is maddening how many twists lead to an inclusive ending.