The Hateful Eight
Starring: Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson
Review written by Robert D. Patrick
Beginning with a suffocating, taut score that is so tight it leaves rope burns, Quentin Tarantino’s blood flecked roadshow of cigar masticating hate refuses to bury the lead. The dialogue, per usual, is a cat’s cradle of gasoline and saliva charged machismo. Every garish syllable spewed is a sizzling wick for future carnage. To say too much about the story itself would be a disservice to QT’s pinata of sinew and bone. There are a number of ornery strangers, within the walls of The Hateful Eight, that are barely holding onto civility. Their incisors are caked with tobacco and stew. Their clothes weathered and patchwork. They resemble slinking coyotes with missing tufts of fur. And meanwhile, Ennio Morricone’s orchestrates the proceedings like he has one leg in Dante’s Inferno.
While the film does excess like nobody’s business – you can tell that Tarantino has been buddying up with gore aficionado Eli Roth for far too long – the first half of The Hateful Eight lets the dialogue ominously emanate like candle wax. After the gristly intermission, however, blood starts gushing like the elevators at the Overlook Hotel. Much like Nickelodeon’s Double Dare, no head is spared. It’s an assault on audiences that requires an almost masochistic endurance. Tarantino doesn’t pepper the viewer with violence, he unscrews the top of the shaker.
The movie, though headlined by the wily Kurt Russell, is Samuel L. Jackson’s until the final nihilistic frame. Jackson hasn’t wrung out a performance like this in close to twenty years. He delivers his dialogue in manic outbursts, punctuates with impact, and leaves a maniacal trail of laughter in his wake as if his incensed guffaws were spent shell casings. Tim Roth, meanwhile, plays his character with an animated colorfulness that could be confused with a Rocky and Bullwinkle character. Jennifer Jason Leigh spits butane and venom, and is given a role that requires the restrained vitriol of a king cobra. The most outrageous character, out of all of the miscreants, is Demián Bichir as Bob. It’s a befuddled and overtly humorous character that delivers his lines as if he was Strong Bad from the Homestar Runner series of cartoons.
The Hateful Eight is all powder burns and flickering candles. And while it may be the most viscous and unforgiving picture of 2015, it’s also one of the most memorable. Tarantino always goes all-in, and here, in the belly of an indifferent snowstorm, the whiteout is a canvas for aggression and Pollock-like bloodshed.