Tarantino’s eight film, (as he narcissistically numbers in the credits), The Hateful Eight in a nutshell is predictably Tarantino-esque and at most times in the film tedious. The script itself was initially overly hyped due to secrecy and the scandal of being leaked, the dramatic temporary hiatus from Tarantino due to this almost led to it not being made; perhaps this would have been best for everyone.
The plot of the film, which is mostly dragged out to almost three hours due over exaggerated and pretentious dialogue, centres around eight characters (plus the driver, so essentially nine) stuck in Minnie’s Haberdashery during a snow storm. These eight characters each have their own backstory and are not what they seem, it’s up to audience to decide if they are interesting or not; but the consensus is split. This film shouldn’t be called The Hateful Eight but actually the Furious Five as three of the eight characters are pointless and non-crucial to the film. Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Walter Goggins were simply in the film because Tarantino essentially wanted his friends in these parts. Goggins provides a little bit of humour, and of course Tarantino wanted a refined English gent and his typical rogue cowboy (Roth and Madsen respectively) but they were not essentially to the plot and the characters themselves seemed to be drab and non-engaging. Channing Tatum makes a not so secret ‘surprise’ appearance in the film but he fails to show anything spectacular. The actors aren’t to blame, they played these characters to the best of their abilities but it wasn’t enough to save them from the cardboard-ness the characters themselves. True, there is one scene in which Madsen is crucial but this could’ve easily been swapped by Demián Bichir or another character.
The rest of the so called Hateful Eight were in fact brilliant and attempted to redeem the film. Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell and Demián Bichir played their parts outstandingly and made the characters themselves engaging and an interesting addition. The legend himself Samuel L. Jackson was of course a breath of fresh air, and showed that despite being a blockbuster star that he is in fact an actor first and highlighted his variety of talent. Surprisingly, the best part and most incredibly performance of the film was in fact Jennifer Jason Leigh. Who would’ve thought that a racist, vile and disgusting thing of a human being Daisy Domergue would be the stand out performance in the entire film. Essentially, everything centres around her without even knowing it. It’s scary how treacherous and horrible her character is but she plays it so beautifully and wonderful. Jackson and Leigh are the definite talents that shine on screen.
Music is a crucial element to Tarantino’s films. He is known for ‘borrowing’ music and juxapositioning it with the scenes that unfold, he attempts to do this with The Hateful Eight at times but it’s not as effective as previously done by him. In The Hateful Eight, it is extremely disappointing, the music that he decides to juxtapose just does not work. Thankfully, the majority of music in the film was scored by Ennio Morricone who is of course brilliance itself. His original score (for once Tarantino does not ‘borrow’ music) is enchanting, from the opening music which sets the dark undertone to the beautiful commentary on the landscape. The praise and hype of his score is acceptable and definitely encouraged.
The Hateful Eight feels like he tried for hard for rewards and prestige. This sums his movies up essentially now as he is no longer the arthouse director that cinephiles and film lovers marvelled in owe at, whether Tarantino likes it or not; he is now a big director who has sold his soul to Hollywood. The praise and prestige put on this film is shocking because it essentially doesn’t grab audiences nor their attention throughout most of it.
Ultimately, the film is character driven. This isn’t usually a bad thing, but when not all the characters are interesting nor captivating. It’s unclear whether Tarantino was trying to honour the old Western movies or just do his own take, but Django Unchained was a superior take on the genre. This film is a hard film to watch, it takes almost an hour for the story to progress and the transitions themselves are not concise nor clear. The Hateful Eight isn’t the worst film, and the cinematography of the landscape is delightful, but it is a huge disappointment and sadly shows what can happen to promising indie directors when they are welcomed into Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, I do love Tarantino’s movies, but The Hateful Eight seems too much of a studio movie for this once auteur.