Bounty hunters seek shelter from a raging blizzard and get caught up in a plot of betrayal and deception.
Quentin Tarantino’s ultraviolent, ultra-talky sorta-Western “The Hateful Eight” is an impressive display of film craft and a profoundly ugly movie—so gleeful in its violence and so nihilistic in its world view that it feels as though the director is daring his detractors to see it as a confirmation of their worst fears about his art.
Set in the post-Civil War era, the movie pits a group of criminals and criminally brutal lawmen against each other in a snowbound Wyoming cabin. Tarantino takes his sweet time assembling his core cast. He spends nearly a half-hour on a stagecoach ride that introduces a mustachioed fugitive tracker, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell, talking like John Wayne); his driver O.B. (James Parks); his prisoner, the treacherous outlaw Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who’s being escorted to Red Rock for hanging; incoming Red Rock sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), a former outlaw that Ruth can’t accept as a lawman, and Maj. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), an ex-slave turned anti-Confederate war hero turned bounty hunter whose record of wartime atrocities makes Ruth distrust him and Mannix hate his guts.
When they arrive at the cabin—a watering hole known as Minnie’s Haberdashery that seems as improbably vast on the inside as Snoopy’s doghouse—they are joined by more characters. There’s a furtive and rather cryptic Mexican (Demian Bichir) who calls himself Bob, a former Confederate general (Bruce Dern), a smug and effete British hangman (Tim Roth, filling what might otherwise be the Christoph Waltz part), and a smirking gunman named Joe Gage (Michael Madsen, doing the Michael Madsen thing). The joint’s owner, Minnie, is nowhere to be found, and her husband is missing as well.