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The Hateful Eight – Review


Release Date: 8th January 2016
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson - Kurt Russell - Jennifer Jason Leigh - Tim Roth - Walton Goggins - Michael Madsen - Bruce Dern



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Posted January 12, 2016 by

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The Hateful Eight Review:

A blizzard is fast on the tail of John Ruth, aka “The Hangman” and his valuable bounty Daisy Domergue. They can’t make the town of Red Rock in time so they set out for Minnie’s Haberdashery. Along the way they pick up Union Major Marquis Warren and soon-to-be Sheriff Chris Mannix.

They reach their refuge as snowy hell lands. Cooped up with the riders from the storm are Oswaldo Mobray (an English hangman), Bob (a Mexican caretaker of the haberdashery) General Sandy Smithers (old Confederate veteran) and Joe Gage (cow puncher).

John “The Hangman” Ruth doesn’t trust any of them and he’s going to let them all know.

The crux here is the cast and it’s a great one. There’s the Walrus-like Russel. A big, fuzzy bully voiced by his paranoia, he places his ease of mind over everyone else’s (no consideration for their feelings). It’s charming and quite puzzling to see The Hangman break his bounty Daisy’s nose with his elbow one moment then caringly wipe stew from the side of her mouth the next. Jason Leigh is the closest thing the movie has to a MacGuffin. She is a bloodsoaked, shrill-throated stoker of men’s tempers. Goggins’ Sheriff is seemingly the most ill-witted of the eight, an idealistic lost-causing son of a rebel renegade. He shows rare admiration for another of the eight, (in)famous Confederate General Smithers. Bruce Dern garners more interest the longer he goes without saying anything, this stoic looking old man, sitting by the fire, draped in the grey of the south. With what few lines he has, you’ll find his views abhorrent and fast-rotting.

Roth’s foreigner Mobray acts for a while as a mediator of sorts, with a hairbrained and bad-tasting suggestion of splitting the cabin into North and South. Demián Bichir’s Bob is the most Mexican-sounding Mexican you’ll ever hear. The full-blown stereotype Bob gets the laughs, thanks to his absolutely ridiculous accent. A suspicious air follows Bob around but the award for the most suspicious and mysterious goes to Madsen’s Cow Puncher. A man of even fewer words than General Smithers, he is the most withdrawn, sitting at a dimly-lit corner table curtained by heavy chains. Madsen gives that sparse, Eastwood-like delivery that’s got him this far. A calming presence he is not.

Last but not least, Jackson. The undeniable star of the show and the closest thing the Hateful Eight has to a hero and yet he is miles off from ever being one (one merciless story-telling has to be Jackson’s most villainous scene yet.) The wiliest of this wild bunch, Warren’s got his eye on everyone.

Tarantino holds fast to his trade-marks; his prolonged and credited openings, back and forth structure and, to the movie’s detriment, his reluctance to kill his darlings. The Hateful Eight is long and its often gripping tension does not grip all the time. As for those causing the tension, you can’t care flat out for any of them, the way you would have for Django or The Bride. All of the eight are either racists, woman beaters or murderers. Some manage to be all three.

The real pleasure comes from watching how each character finds a new way to aggravate another.   The wounds of war still bleed. Yankees and Rebels, Outlaws and Lawmen, Black and White, Male and Female all have to survive the night together. There ain’t a drop of trust in the room and the bulk of the dialogue is filled with accusations, threats and slurs of the vilest degree. Freddy Krueger would take one look at this sleepover and walk swiftly the way he came.

Making a return along with the film itself is the maestro Ennio Morricone. Despite being on board to score a Western for the first time in decades, this here score does not sound Western. It is pure horror. Low, groaning woodwinds ride along with incoming trouble. Shrieking violins help pull scenes into bloody insanity. The violence being sparse and the build-up to it being everything, Morricone’s dread-filled ominous music serves perfectly.

Tarantino’s prodigal eighth picture returns with typically witty, thick and bloody style. What happens when the take the worst the Old West has to offer and stuff them all into a draughty cabin in the middle of nowhere? This here’s a powder keg with a very long fuse.


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Written by:


Michael Keyes
Silences Band
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