The Hateful Eight,
directed by Quentin Tarantino
(Weinstein Co., 2015)

The number in the title of The Hateful Eight is not high enough. I would add to that number Quentin Tarantino, who wrote and directed this movie.

Tarantino is a director who made a name for being unafraid to shock his audience. But sometimes, like with this movie, he seems to go out of his way to shock for no reason other than, well, heck, it's shocking. But after, for instance, blitzing his viewers with the "n-word" in Django Unchained, he decided to go full-bore racist with his character choices in this movie, too. It gets old -- no longer shocking, simply uncomfortable.

The hateful eight of the title are John Ruth, a ruthless bounty hunter (Kurt Russell); Daisy Domergue, his quarry (Jennifer Jason Leigh); Major Marquis Warren, a slightly less ruthless bounty hunter and a dishonest black veteran of the Civil War (Samuel L. Jackson); Chris Mannix, a former Confederate raider and maybe a newly appointed cowtown sheriff (Walton Goggins); Oswaldo Mobray, a Brit and maybe a hangman for hire (Tim Roth); Joe Gage, a cowboy writing his memoirs (Michael Madsen); Sandy Smithers, an aging Confederate general and unapologetic racist (Bruce Dern); Bob the Mexican hostler (Demian Bichir); and stagecoach driver O.B. (James Parks).

OK, so that's nine. I guess O.B. isn't really hateful, he's just kind of unpleasant.

These nine people come together at a snowbound stagecoach stop in Wyoming (played in the movie by Colorado), where they are trapped during a blizzard. Some of them know each other from days gone by, others don't know they know each other, and some of them truly dislike each other for past sins. As the viewer, don't expect to like or empathize with any of them.

The lengthy film is broken into chapters because Quentin Tarantino. On rare occasions, it suddenly has a narrator because, well, Quentin Tarantino. (Which probably explains why Tarantino is the narrator.) There's also a couple of flashbacks, and in one of them we actually meet some very likable characters -- Minnie Mink (Dana Gourrier), Sweet Dave (Gene Jones), Six-Horse Judy (Zoe Bell), Gemma (Belinda Owino), Charly (Keith Jefferson) and Ed (Lee Horsley) -- but, like I said, they're likable, so don't expect them to hang around for more than that one scene. There's also a flashback with Chester Charles Smithers (Craig Stark), whom I suppose we're not supposed to like but we don't really get a chance to find out. Poor bastard.

Point is, The Hateful Eight is overly long, but it's short on plot. It's a bunch of folks hating on each other at a stagecoach stop. People die, and it's usually nasty. There's a lot of blood and cussin'. Good people die. Bad people die. And there's no real point to any of it. It's just Quentin Tarantino trying to be shocking again.

But I wasn't shocked, Quentin. I was honestly bored.

review by
Tom Knapp

15 April 2017

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