For one reason or another, the Western genre of entertainment just won’t go away. Almost anywhere you look in the industry, Western settings that arguably peaked decades ago are still present, repeating the same visual and narrative themes that have been popular for generations.
It’s perhaps most evident on television, where multiple Westerns have become popular among modern audiences despite the fact that they can occasionally feel dated. ‘Deadwood’ and ‘Longmire’ led the way among these particular shows in the genre, all of which tend to get good reviews.
In many aspects of gaming, too, the Western genre remains very popular among players. The biggest example is certainly Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, which is more or less Grand Theft Auto for in an Old West environment. However, other corners of the video game industry include games in similar settings as well. This gaming site is all about bingo and casino games, but it uses a number of different themes to make those games more interesting. And sure enough, there are Western ideas mixed in, most notably in a game called Gold Rally that invokes the spirit of the American gold rush. And finally, there are actually a ton of apps that make use of Old West themes in gaming.
And of course, the Western genre endures in film as well. Notable examples from the past decade include ‘Appaloosa’ and ‘3:10 To Yuma’, both of which were fairly classic in their own ways. And this coming January we’ll also see a bold new look at the genre in the form of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘The Revenant’, which is not a traditional Western but which will nevertheless take place on a rugged American frontier landscape.
But in modern cinema, just a couple years ago, the release of ‘Django Unchained’ proved that no one can do better with the Western genre than Quentin Tarantino. The popular and wildly unique director has always strayed toward certain Western themes, and one can certainly argue that even films like the ‘Kill Bill’ movies and ‘Pulp Fiction’ flirt with classification as pseudo-Westerns. But with ‘Django Unchained’ Tarantino jumped fully into the world of Westerns—and this holiday season, he’s doing it again with a new film called ‘The Hateful 8’.
Publicity for this project has been surprisingly subdued, even in the months leading up to its release. Really, it’s been a strange project from the beginning, with Tarantino even cancelling production at one point due to a rumoured leak of the script in Hollywood circles. Fortunately for Tarantino fans, the film was ultimately made (and relatively quickly at that), and now it’s due out over the holidays.
So what do we know about ‘The Hateful 8’? Well, you can watch the trailer here, but in addition here are some of the interesting details we have.
The basic plot concerns a bounty hunter (played by Kurt Russell) lugging his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) through a snow storm. Along the way they’ll pick up additional travellers and ultimately end up stranded at a place called Minnie’s Haberdashery, where other dastardly figures seeking refuge from the winter weather will be waiting. That’s more or less about it for major plot points, but it’s quite clear that each character will have something of a back story to be explored, and that there will be conflicts between pretty much everyone.
Beyond that basic info, the full cast can be viewed online, and there are persistent rumours that Channing Tatum will also be in the film, though he isn’t listed and he didn’t appear in the trailer. Otherwise, all we can be totally sure of is that aspects of this film are going to feel familiar. One of Tarantino’s greatest gifts is his ability to connect his films to one another while keeping them delightfully unique. It’s a certainty that ‘The Hateful 8’ will feature at least a few ties to previous Tarantino films (sometimes it’s as simple as a character’s last name), though given that it occurs in much the same world as ‘Django Unchained’, this one could be more recognisable than most.