Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Walton Goggins

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Released: 2015

Mood: If you have a friend who talks way too much and seems unaware of the issue so you want to put on a Western that’s basically all talking and see if they notice or if they just really think life should be all about sitting around talking.


The Hateful Eight is disappointing, and is my least favourite Quentin Tarantino movie.


I haven’t seen everything he wrote and directed, but I’ve seen more than half of his work. After enjoying all of the others, The Hateful Eight just feels like Tarantino is getting off on being Tarantino. Like it’s one giant, gloating exploration of what it means to make a Tarantino movie, rather than a story with a purpose.


It took me until now to review this movie because I legit thought I’d already seen it ages ago, before I invented this website. I had the DVD in my hands many, many times over the last few years… but the near-three-hour runtime always made me pick something else.


Turns out no, I hadn’t seen it. And no, it’s not worth the bloody ridiculous runtime.


The Hateful Eight isn’t garbage or anything – the performances are all stellar. It’s just not GREAT, and definitely not as good as his other projects like Django Unchained. You could do a lot better with three hours. Watch two shorter Westerns. Read a Western graphic novel. Hell, you could probably even start your own Western website.


photo of the Hateful Eight DVD on snow


The Hateful Eight has an incredibly simple plot behind its 167 minutes.


Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is a bounty hunter on his way to Red Rock, accompanied by two bodies with huge prices on their frozen heads. His horse didn’t make it, and there’s a blizzard coming. He asks to join a passing stagecoach. Inside is ‘The Hangman John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his very much live bounty, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh).


After much haggling and some lighthearted threats and violence, Ruth lets Warren get on board. They find Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) wandering in the snow. He says he’s the new sheriff of Red Rock, and if they want those bounties they’d better bring him along.


The four have to stop at a place called Minnie’s Haberdashery to wait out the storm. Minnie is not there. Some questionable men say they’re watching the place for her. They are a hangman named Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), cowboy Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), a crotchety old Confederate general (Bruce Dern), and a Mexican named Bob (Demián Bichir).


Everybody could be lying about who they are. Nobody trusts anybody. Everybody has guns. Nobody can leave.


illustration of a moustache that is curled at the ends


Let’s get this straight: Samuel L. Jackson is INSANELY GOOD in The Hateful Eight. So is Kurt Russell. So is Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are no weak performances anywhere.


What’s weak is the glue holding the plot together. It’s like you tried to use wood glue on plastic because it was the only glue you had on hand, and even though it seems like it should work because it’s glue and glue only has one job, it doesn’t stick.


Here’s what Tarantino said at Comic-Con about why he made The Hateful Eight.


“It’s less inspired by one Western movie than by Bonanza, The Virginian, [The] High Chaparral. Twice per season, those shows would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage… I don’t like that story line in a modern context, but I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. I thought, ‘What if I did a movie starring nothing but those characters?’”


Yeah, that does sound like a lot of fun. IF YOU ACTUALLY REVEAL THEIR BACKSTORIES.


Tarantino traps his characters in the lodge for almost the entire movie, doing nothing but talking. You know he loves his clever dialogue, his monologues that ramp up to a profanity-laden crescendo. The stuff the fans love to quote. It’s just not quite as clever here, not quite as entertaining.


Still, trapping them should be an effective way to bring out those juicy backstories and reveals, right? Nope. There’s almost no mystery about who’s good versus bad.  And most of the hateful eight never get their time in the spotlight.


  • We don’t know how Oswaldo, Gage, and Bob started working with Jody – were they hired for this job, or were they always part of some gang? Did they have special skills, or were they just a random bag of criminals?
  • We don’t know anything about Jody other than he was currently an outlaw
  • We think we know Ruth, but all we really know is that he’s a bounty hunter who always brings ‘em in alive
  • We never find out if Mannix actually was the new sheriff of Red Rock
  • We have no clue what Daisy did that got such a massive bounty on her head

For a movie that’s just ten minutes shorter than the first installment of The Lord of the Rings, this is unacceptable.

Instead of giving us captivating flashbacks that provide context to the people in the room, building suspense, we get, what? One short flashback with Jackson’s character that makes you think you’ll get a bunch more, and one flashback thrown in at the last minute featuring a bunch of new and pointless characters.


Like no shit, the owners were dead and these men killed them. We all figured that out right away. As much as I adore Zoe Bell, we didn’t need her and a bunch of other randos introduced only to be killed.


It feels like an excuse to show off how ‘chill’ Tarantino can be about violence and gore – and we’ve already seen that from him, too. We get it. It’s very, “Look at me, I show women being brutally beaten and killed in the same way as men, does that shock you and make you question your thoughts on equality?”


Nope, not shocked. Just bored.


illustration of a moustache that is curled at the ends


It’s too bad about the lack of depth, lack of depth in The Hateful Eight. The production quality is strong, but the script is like a bunch of unfinished ideas tacked together.


Even the gore, Tarantino’s signature element, feels lazy here. There were times where I actually rolled my eyes because instead of being deliciously disgusting, it just felt fake.


So much more could have been done with these characters, and this brilliant cast. There are lots of moments where there are glimmers of that freshness you expect from Tarantino’s movies, and you start to think okay, here we go!


But it doesn’t go. It stays put. And this movie will definitely go back to staying put on my shelf.