- Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino
- December 7, 2015 (Cinerama Dome) / December 25, 2015 (United States)
A bounty hunter and his prisoner are trapped with a group of strangers in an isolated cabin during a severe Wyoming winter storm.
The Hateful Eight is the eighth film by director Quentin Tarantino. This is heresy to some, but I am not big into Tarantino. Do not believe such a stance is heresy? State that with a defensible reason why in some movie group and watch the insults and swipes roll in.
He is okay but I do not see him as this directing god that others do. One of my issues with Tarantino is he has three favorite words he likes to use frequently in his dialogue: n***r, s**t, and f**k. And he uses them a lot in all his movies. Sometimes it appears to be all the character can say. I am not against profanity. He just relies on it in my opinion at the expense of actual dialogue.
Tarantino writes like a child trying to be edgy. His writing is immature and uncreative. He has not grown beyond the child that wrote his first screenplay and vowed to never give his mother any money. Despite all his creative shortcomings he has developed a strong cult following and gets regularly employed. Kudos to his marketing department.
You can expect the resolution to be violent in his films. Violence is not the issue but rather that seems to be the default finale in Tarantino’s playbook. He has run out of story so time to kill as many characters as violently as possible. It feels a bit lazy to me.
I have heard it said that Quentin Tarantino is an individual with ideas for great scenes that he strings together with a story. I guess that is true of just about any screenwriter or director, but what is demonstrated here in The Hateful Eight in particular is that he just does not have an ending in mind. At least I do not think he does. He came to the end of his scenes and feeling the need to wrap it up he killed everybody.
There are many great scenes in The Hateful Eight. I would even go so far as to say the majority of the scenes are just that-great scenes. But they are presented in a convoluted and unnecessarily complex story. Tarantino uses all his ideas rather than make creative decisions on what should or should not go into the film. At this point in his career he does not have to make the tough decisions on what to use and what not to use. Because of his strong following no studio will tell him “No.” He is a creative mind that no longer needs to filter. That creates an issue in this films story.
The narrative is moving along at a steady an interesting pace. The characters and situation are being developed. Then, as if he thought of something he felt was cool, Tarantino shifts things and goes off on what is the film equivalent of a videogame side quest. He loses focus.
Another thing is the use of narration. Rather than using a title card or screen text to briefly set things up Tarantino just gives a lot of exposition in a film that despite the number of characters and its general structure did not need that much exposition. The Hateful Eight was not some sweeping epic with dozens of characters. This film only had eight core characters with only a smattering of other side characters used primarily in the finale.
Tarantino throws together a volatile mix of characters in a way station on the road to the settlement of Red Rock. We have a great cast that plays to their strengths with Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Coggins, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and many others. Tarantino does a good job of building paranoia by tossing their characters together in what amounts to a locked room. I give him that. I am not big on the revisionist Western films, but this part actually works.
The costuming in The Hateful Eight is great. They are some of the best Western outfits I have seen since, well, Tombstone which was another film that starred Kurt Russell. They are not just a hat and a suit. They are detailed and involved articles that range from looking like high fashion to just functional. They dressed like real people.
In this story there is so much that connects. Under most circumstances this would be a red flag but here they are more of a red herring at times and at others an excuse for a plethora of bullets and blood squibs. The Hateful Eight is heavy on coincidence. The villains plan would not have worked without the storm or if Russell’s character had not been forced to stay at the outpost. What if a group of people that were not such easy pickings showed up? There were multiple factors that could not be factored in that just worked.
Aside from the heavy use of his three favorite words it was a good enough story with good enough direction and a nice score with a foreboding and threatening feel throughout. The resolution is where things go wrong. I have nothing against an end where everyone dies. They can be effective at times. I have enjoyed plenty of movies where either the main character died or the whole cast is dead by the credits rolling, but such a finale needs to have a point as do all finales. And it felt like there was no point in at all. He had run out of story and needed a resolution so he went to his default.
I might have felt different if the possible lie by Daisy’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) brother Jody (Channing Tatum) had not been introduced where he claims that the whole town of Red Rock where everyone is headed is being ransacked and all that by a gang of 15 or so men. It was an extraneous plot element that seemed like it was going to extend the film a little bit where either we learn the town was actually destroyed or that it was all a lie but that was never shown. When it was introduced, I half expected Chris Mannix (Walton Coggins) to say they were all dead at some point but no.
Is The Hateful Eight my favorite Western? No. Ending aside, I can certainly see why some people like it however it is not some masterpiece. It is only just okay and not worth more than one viewing. I give this an if you want.