TL;DR – A beautiful film in a certain respect, filled with Tarantino’s trademark gore but not a whole lot of anything else
Score – 2 out of 5 stars
So two of the three films I have seen this year have been set in the snowy reaches of frontier America, both contain people battling against the elements and a lot of blood, violence and unsettling themes. However, while I walked out of The Revenant feeling that I had witnessed something truly remarkable, when I walked out of The Hateful Eight I felt, “well, yer, that was a thing”.
The Hateful Eight has at its core a very interesting premise, John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russel) is bringing Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to justice to the town of Red Rock. Along the way, they pick up Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) and Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) an African-American bounty hunter and a son of a southern vigilantly general. Unfortunately, a blizzard is stampeding towards them and they will have to weather the storm at Minnie’s Haberdashery, a small house in the middle of nowhere Wyoming. Thus we end up with nine people (the Hateful Nine does not have the same ring to it) stuck in this small outpost for three days as the storm seals them in, nobody sure of anyone else’s intentions and a $10,000 bounty hanging in the air.
As I said this is a great set up, and it fits the genre to a tee, however, for something like this to work you have to manage the tension exceptionally well, have the audience watching every move for a clue, alas it’s not that kind of movie. Instead, we get long ponderous musings about people past lives that led them there interspaced with some gore. In fact, it was not until the fourth act (chapter) that I felt any tension at all. It does not help that sometimes Quentin Tarantino decides to be a narrator, but not always, it’s odd and really draws you away from the film.
This is the first problem with the movie, the second is that it is very disturbing film, and that is even on top of the blood and gore that have to expect from a Quentin Tarantino film. For this, I will compare The Hateful Eight with Django Unchained, firstly because I quite liked Django, and secondly because it has the same writer and director and is set roughly around the same time, so it allows us a better comparison than most. Django is a very violent film, filled with some very confronting scenes and language, however, it never felt gratuitous. This is because most of the violence is almost cartoonish, and the moments in the film where the violence becomes realistic, it is there to provide a very important character moment. In The Hateful Eight, most of the violence feels gratuitous, and there are some really disturbing scenes that make the dog attack scene from Django seem almost tame. More problematic than that is that the most disturbing scene (which I cannot describe because of its content) really did not need to be there, the same outcome could have been achieved any number of ways, it is only there to shock.
There are a couple of good things here, there are some beautiful moments where the 70mm film captures the snow and the horses and the landscape in a way you don’t see with a lot of today’ digital cameras. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a stand out as Daisy Domergue “The Prisoner” as is Zoë Bell, who has a great range but does not get cast very often which is a shame and it was interesting to see Channing Tatum pop up in this film. Of course, Ennio Morricone is in his element here with an amazing score.
Honestly, I can’t recommend The Hateful Eight, if you are looking for a bleak violent look at the American frontier, go watch The Revenant, if you want to watch a good Tarantino film set in this time period, pick up Django on DVD or Netflix
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Quentin Tarantino
Written by – Quentin Tarantino
Starring – Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russel, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks, Channing Tatum, Dana Gourrier and Zoë Bell
Rating – Australia: R18+; Canada: 18A; Ireland: 18; NZ: R16; UK: 18; USA: R