Directed and written by Quentin Tarantino. Produced by Richard N. Gladstein, Shannon McIntosh, and Stacey Sher. Release date: December 25, 2015.
The Hateful Eight marks the eighth film from director Quentin Tarantino - according to the man himself. It's really nine, as Kill Bill was released in two volumes and Tarantino didn't seem to have any difficulty taking money twice so people could see the whole thing - but that's an argument for another time. The point is: we know pretty much what we're getting into when we go see a "Quentin Tarantino movie." It'll be a long film filled with lots of (often profane) dialogue - some of it completely unrelated to anything that matters in terms of the plot - with sporadic, over-the-top violence mixed in. The settings and plots change, but the formula more or less stays the same.
So, it should come as little surprise that The Hateful Eight does, indeed, stick rather rigidly to this formula. The setting is post-Civil War America, in the middle of a blizzard. The characters come from various sides, have different motives and prejudices, and they're forced to wait out the blizzard in Minnie's Haberdashery. One of them is a bounty hunter nicknamed "The Hangman" (Kurt Russell), who is carrying Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to a nearby town to, well, hang. The plot eventually hinges on one of the other characters - or perhaps multiple other characters - having plotted with Daisy in order to ensure her escape prior to her arrival.
As such, the film evolves into a thriller in which both the characters and the audience are trying to figure out who's on whose side, and for what reasons. The dialogue early in the film has all of the characters trying to learn as much as they can about each other. Later on, what's been uncovered becomes imperative in hopes of figuring out who might try to cross The Hangman.
The dialogue in a Tarantino film is almost always a highlight, so giving it this extra edge makes it even better. As soon as we arrive at the haberdashery, each scene is filled with so much tension that you very well may be sitting on the edge of your seat for a good portion of the film - which is over three hours long, if you watch the 70mm version, and only 20 minutes shorter in its general release version. There's a genuine feeling that any of these characters might go off at any moment, and waiting for that - alongside this wonderfully lively, entertaining, funny, and informative dialogue - is a good chunk of the fun.