Seven men. One woman. One blizzard-bound cabin.
That’s the setting for Quentin Tarantino’s newest blood-and-bullets escapade, this time set in the snowy desolation of post-Civil War Wyoming. The plot is fairly simple, equal parts western and locked room mystery. Bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell with a truly magnificent mustache) is taking one Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang in Red Rock when his coach encounters another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), stranded in the frozen wilderness. The two men form an uneasy alliance before letting one more man, soon-to-be Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), join them in the cramped stagecoach. With a fierce blizzard right behind it, the stage coach barely makes it to a lodge, where four other men are already hunkered down for the storm. From there things begin to come to a bloody boil as Ruth and Warren quickly realize no one may be who they claim.
If you’ve seen any Tarantino movie before, you will have a good idea what The Hateful Eight will be like. Witty, purposeful dialogue. Gallows humor. On-point soundtrack. The catchy-yet-suspenseful soundtrack is especially fitting, for multiple reasons. It comes courtesy of Ennio Morricone, legendary composer of films such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and countless other spaghetti westerns. He was also the composer for John Carpenter’s classic 1982 The Thing, which also features Kurt Russell’s facial hair and an hostile snowy landscape; Hateful Eight even repurposes some of Morricone’s unused score for The Thing. The Hateful Eight also boasts an amazing array of characters, as would be expected. Unfortunately, despite a three hour run time, The Hateful Eight never seems to allow time for the characters to truly become memorable. Russell, Leigh, and Jackson’s characters are the standouts, especially with Leigh’s cackling mad woman, but even then the film paints them in such broad strokes that it’s hard to become invested. That’s not to say it’s not a well acted or a bad movie, far from it, but compared to the rest of Tarantino’s towering catalog The Hateful Eight comes across as a slight misstep. The Hateful Eight is out now in theaters.
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