After Quentin Tarantino’s rather awesome and bloody (not to mention highly controversial) Django Unchained, I was surprised the director decided to return to the same Spaghetti Western genre. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guns, the grit and coffee so bad you need a steel gut to survive it – I just thought he may have met his political commentary quota and moved on. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The political themes in Django Unchained manifest in The Hateful Eight in a far more subtle, albeit bloody-as-hell way. This time around Tarantino also had a more difficult job in creating something that would captivate audiences for 3 hours with minimal set locations. I suppose he cut his teeth on this self-imposed restriction back with Reservoir Dogs. In this case though his maturity as a filmmaker allows him to weave a critical social commentary with a narrative so tight and gripping you’ll think you were stuck right in the cabin with the dirty rabble. It’s this ‘more from less’ that makes me think this is one of his best films to date.


On the surface The Hateful Eight is a simple story. We start on a stagecoach rapidly trying to outrace a blizzard in the mountains with bounty hunter John “The Hangman” Ruth, played by a violent and heavily mustached Kurt Russell. His job is to transport Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the town of Red Rock where the murdering criminal will hang. You see Ruth does things the hard way, no killing and bringing in the bodies for the bounty, not with his sense of ‘justice’. No, he wants them to hang, HANG I say!

They meet up with Col. Marquis Warren (played by Samuel L. Jackson in a role that deserves a medal, globe, or statue, anything!), an ex-Civil War legend turned fellow bounty hunter, stranded on the icy road after his horse had succumbed to the extreme weather. Warren has some dead bounties he needs transporting to Red Rock, and after some tense negotiations at the end of Ruth’s rifle, the Hangman agrees to give him a lift.

Only for this odd pairing to bump into the manically brilliant Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), the son of an infamous Southern Confederate rebel leader who claims to now be the new Sheriff of Red Rock. Ruth is highly suspicious of Mannix’s claim, but with the deadly storm fast approaching, they all head to well-known travelers rest-stop Minnie’s Haberdashery for shelter. It’s here that we meet Bob (Demián Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth, back in a Tarantino film after 20 years), Joe Gage (Michael Madsen because ‘Tarantino’) and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) – fellow travelers who are also waiting out the storm. (Interestingly these are all names of B-grade movie directors – Oh, Tarantino you!) It’s here that the majority of the movie will take place, so make yourself at home and get comfortable. Just don’t drink the coffee; it’s worse than the stuff in my office.

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In true Tarantino style the movie is set in this restricted ‘theatre’ with a few cuts to what is happening outside peppered in. It allows you to focus more on what is being said, creates a sense of claustrophobia and also tones down the pace to a near crawl, something that some may find jarring. Indeed if I can say anything negative about the movie is that nothing, other than dialogue and the occasional face bashing of Domergue by Ruth, happens in the first half. Personally I think that is fine, I am more than happy to hang on every single word these characters say because what they say is hard, extreme and at times absolutely bloody hysterical.


The Hateful Eight is set shortly after the US Civil War and with it, anxieties, revenge, and extreme racism are the benchmark for these characters’ personalities. The social commentary here is bleak as the characters face the realities of what the so-called American Dream means. Freedom? Not a chance when you are black, a fugitive, deserter, ex-soldier, or General and have done things for both personal and patriotic reasons that are more questionable than a drunken night out in Amsterdam. These are explored through Tarantino’s trademark monologues, only this time round he employs really tight camera work that jumps from furtive glances of faces responding to what is being said to constant interruptions that draw out these diatribes to the point of humorous ‘are we there yet?’ questions, much like the overly-long sentence I just wrote. And it works very well.

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The racial tension in the movie is almost palpable, with all the characters dropping the “N” word like a hot coal; they are all as bad as each other and all harbour serious darkness in their hearts. However, the chemistry and interactions between Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins, the closest we get to ‘protagonists’, truly stands out. Don’t get me wrong, there is enough chemistry between all the characters to make a spin off series of Breaking Bad, but the actual development of their relationship is very interesting, and actually leaves you with a little hope (I said a little!).

Goggins really plays that ‘hillbilly’ card very well in The Hateful Eight and his development, unlike other characters, will surprise you. Roth, sadly not utilised as much as I wish he was, plays the Englishman in such an over the top manner you’ll shamelessly giggle at his mannerisms. Demián Bichir, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh (she is superb) and Michael Madsen also turn in sterling performances that will keep you transfixed as much as you will be shocked. I do feel that they missed out on more character development but I suppose this was necessary to support the few that were allowed to.


After four viewings I am still enthralled with the film, the language, the underlying themes, the acting and the twists and turns all work so well together that you won’t believe you just spent three hours watching people talk. And all accompanied by the legendary western composer Ennio Morricone’s brilliant Golden Globe-winning music score. It’s not just your ears that will get a workout here though it’s also visually stunning, expertly framed and even the kettle has character. – it’s just a pity we didn’t get the 70mm version!

This review originally appeared on TheMovies.co.za

Last Updated: January 27, 2016

The Hateful Eight
Although the first half is relatively tame by Tarantino standards the second half makes up for this with gusto. Remember Tarantino likes to explore his themes in full daylight, whether that be through his use of blacksploitation or violence, he uses these intense lenses to create scenarios that are so over-the-top that you laugh while choking in horror at what you are laughing at. It’s this dichotomy and contradiction that I love in his movies and The Hateful Eight excels, nay, revels in it.

Nick Reay

I have been an avid fan of movies ever since I discovered Santa Clause wasn’t real, a day marked in my memory by my first viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, which wasn’t so wonderful that day. Since then I’ve watched thousands of movies and even fooled my parents into putting me through uni to get a degree in the subject. I first started writing as a journalist for The South African Newspaper before moving onto communications for an NGO trying to save the planet. Unfortunately my recommendations to the CEO that we should all don rings imbued with the powers of earth, fire, wind, water and HEART went unheard. Now I pretend the end isn’t nigh by hiding in movies.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor


    • GITFS

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        tee hee

      • Hammersteyn

        In this case it must be snow?

        • Haha!

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Did you ever see that handy loading screen tip in W3?

          “When the time of the white frost comes, do not eat the yellow snow.”

          • LOL I need to get back to that game, finished Until Dawn and need me more Witcher!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Heart of Stone is excellent. Story is easily on par with the main game.

  • VampyreSquirrel


  • Mistake Not…

    Is this movie finally out? Yissis, man, Ster-Kinekor is so slow

  • Original Heretic

    Still need to watch this. But I am wondering what fetish Tarantino is going to indulge this time round.

  • Hammersteyn

    Easily one of his greatest movies. Couldn’t tear my eyes away for a second

    • Agreed. I was going to mention that OvG also couldn’t speak during the movie, which is a FIRST…

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Movies and THAT NICK guy? What the heck’s going on here? Have the undesirables won the war? Did they storm the gates?

    • You shut up! *I say standing over the remains of Geoff…

  • Issy Wise

    This movie is a Hollywood landmark. Every single human being who is introduced as a character in this movie dies a violent death. Every single one! Nobody is alive at the end! It is the perfect Hollywood movie! Plus it is funny. As the dying last two characters pull the rope to hang the only woman in the cast, the last words are. “Now, that’s a good ending.”

    This is the perfect Hollywood movie. It is like listening to Miles Davis reducing the art form that is Jazz to it very minimal essence. If any movie can be said to be art. It is this one.

    Additionally, Tarantino continues his depiction of American slave drivers as horrible people. He is part of the antidote to movies like “Gone With the Wind.” Too bad it has taken 50 years after the end of Jim Crow to depict these horrible people as they were.

    • Um. Have you heard of spoilers?

      • Mossel

        Yeah, delete that comment. He just fucking ruined it for me after I read his second sentence. Idiot. Lyk my hy Issy so Wise nie.

        • Have done so. Don’t worry. It won’t ruin it for you. The movie is less about story than about how it is told, you will love it. I still want to watch it again. And yes, what a tool.

          • Mossel

            Will definitely watch it! Love Quentin Tarantino movies!

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