Ain’t it just sooo, call ‘er a coinkydink convenient that everyone in the Wild (north) West knows each other except for the mysterious, potentially murderous newcomers. How does a seasoned, career bounty hunter not recognize a $10,000 prize? How does the hangman not recognize the bounty hunter who supplies his work? How is it that the first three characters we meet in the middle of a nowhere, frostbitten wilderness are either acquainted through reputation or recently attended the same dinner party? It’s all a part of this strange string of events disguised as Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie.
One at a time, the characters of The Hateful Eight enter, stalled on their journeys by a wicked snow storm. Some like John Ruth (Kurt Russell) seem pretty untrustworthy by nature, while others like Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) seem a little too easy going. In the midst of a Wyoming blizzard these nine characters come together under the roof of Minnie’s Haberdashery, currently under the care of Bob the Mexican (Demián Bichir). Among all these crooked, shifty eyed, sin-lovin’ gents – and one good for nothin’ dame – it’s highly encouraged that we look to the incessantly belittled Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) as our favourite outlaw of the bunch. It would be highly ill-advised not to choose Samuel L. Jackson when he is in possession of one obvious gun and several less obvious ones. Something not-so normal starts to brew in that cozy cabin in the middle of nowhere, and judging by the fact that Quentin Tarantino’s pulling the strings, I’d say it’s something sinister.
The only thing is it takes an awfully long time before that “something sinister” gets to a boil. The Hateful Eight’s opening scene is one long, drawn out, extended, exaggerated, slow as molasses zoom. Chapter one. I’d say two hours of this three hour film moves at that same drawling pace. There will be no awards for editing here. What there may be awards for, however, is the ability to snap that lazy-eyed pace into full focus with one, quick, nose-breaking lurch. Unfortunately for Daisy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) she is at the receiving end of such physical snaps approximately 80% of the time.
But she takes it like a hard ass woman. While the rest of the men in the room stand about monologuing ‘till the cows come home (albeit impressively), Daisy gets every kind of beating and blood soaking imaginable. But she just keeps on ticking. Daisy is a relatively mute character in dialogue but screams volumes in her reactions to everyone else’s mischievousness.
But what would a Tarantino movie be without a little humour underneath all that red oatmeal splatter and insults? The Hateful Eight is a morose, whimsical riot. Why Hollywood decided to flood this December/January market with suffocating snow drifts is well beyond me, but the cold, impassable setting fits the mood of these stranded strangers. When O.B Jackson (James Parks) retreats from the blizzard yet again and B-lines it for the fur blanket and roaring hearth, he swears to “NEVER GO OUT IN THAT SHIT EVER AGAIN.” Dearest O.B; my most sincere sympathies.
The Hateful Eight doesn’t just harken back to old Westerns in the lingo and the bourbon; we take a trip back in time and watch it all unfold on Ultra Panavision 70. While it may try to mimic some Lawrence of Arabia frames with a black speck in an expanse of white, the lengthy shots and pans just aren’t worth it. The Hateful Eight is a funny, gory, mysterious movie but it needs a seriously talented editor. This slow and dawdling tale of strangers, suspicion, and patience strolls in around a 7/10.
Not a warning, not a question. A bullet.