The Hateful Eight (4 stars)

The Hateful Eight

Hugely entertaining, characteristically violent western from Quentin Tarantino

‘The eighth film by Quentin Tarantino’, as it’s billed, feels like a return to the very first. Set in an isolated cabin in snowy Wyoming, The Hateful Eight has that same claustrophobia, suspicion and intrigue that powered Reservoir Dogs back in 1992. It also has two of its stars, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen. But Quentin-world has swelled considerably since then; and there’s a self-conscious, operatic grandeur to The Hateful Eight that was absent in the leaner, meaner Dogs.

Shot on 65mm film using the super-rare Ultra Panavision lenses (seek out the 70mm projection if you can for the full experience), with an intermission and a stunning score by the great Ennio Morricone, it also boasts grizzled veterans of the western genre Kurt Russell and Bruce Dern. But this being QT, there’s gratuitous violence (as much inspired by the Russell-starring sci-fi The Thing as anything else) and a prolific spattering of profanities, including a liberal application of the n-word. There’s also a smartly crafted script, with a switchback structure almost as ingenious as his Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction.

The plot cranks into gear as Russell’s bounty hunter John Ruth transports Jennifer Jason Leigh’s vile criminal Daisy Domergue to the nearby town of Red Rock to be hanged. Soon joined by Samuel L Jackson’s soldier and Walton Goggins’ dim-witted sheriff, the group take shelter at Minnie’s Haberdashery as a blizzard sets in – only to find Roth’s British hangman, Madsen’s near-silent cowboy, Demián Bichir’s stable-hand and Dern’s Confederate general awaiting them.

Since it’s set just after the American Civil War, racial tension soon brews – and Tarantino fans will rejoice that he’s lost none of his politically incorrect sensibilities in a booby-trap of a plot as sneaky as a slithering snake. Ultimately, The Hateful Eight goes the way of his last film, Django Unchained, with bodies, bloodshed and brutality the order of the day. Maybe it doesn’t amount to a whole hill of beans, but you’ll have immense fun while it lasts.

General release from Fri 8 Jan.

The Hateful Eight

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • US
  • 2h 48min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Written by: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth
  • UK release: 8 January 2016

Bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) is transporting vile criminal Daisy Domergue (Leigh) to be hanged, but takes shelter from a blizzard at Minnie's Haberdashery. Tarantino's eighth film recalls his first, being similarly fuelled by claustrophobia, suspicion and intrigue, but Reservoir Dogs didn't have Hateful Eight's…