Director: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth
Trapped in a harsh Wyoming blizzard, a bounty hunter, a prisoner, a hangman, and a whole host of other nefarious characters find shelter in a cabin; but as John Ruth (Russell) says, “One of them fellas is not what he says he is…”
I went into this film having heard quite mixed reactions. Some people absolutely loved it, and critics were hailing it as Quentin Tarantino’s “masterpiece”. Others loathed it, stating it was too long, boring and too self-indulgent on Tarantino’s part. I honestly thought I was going to be in the latter camp, but pleased to report that actually I’m with the former. I wouldn’t quite go as far to call it Tarantino’s “masterpiece”, however I did really, really enjoy it!
Known for his snappy dialogue, Tarantino brings us some of the sharpest we’ve seen from him in a very long time. In such a dialogue driven story, this is an absolute necessity to hold the audience, and I was gripped from start to finish. Had it not been for such a killer script, I think I would’ve found it tiresome. The runtime comes in at just over 3 hours (3 hours and 7 minutes to be precise), but with this script, it felt like 2. In fact I could’ve easily watched another half hour or so! The intermission helped (I saw this at a Vue cinema, I understand not all cinemas are including the intermission) in terms of being able to have a quick toilet break and a top up of popcorn, but I could’ve also done without it.
To me, Reservoir Dogs is Tarantino’s masterpiece (others might argue Pulp Fiction is), and The Hateful Eight is definitely inspired by Reservoir Dogs singular setting. It feels incredibly claustrophobic, but at the same time vast and sprawling as the characters make full use of every corner of the cabin setting. It very much feels like watching a dramatic play, and I felt constantly on edge. The slow building of tension is masterfully crafted, ambling rather than hurtling it’s way towards the inevitable bloody conclusion. And boy is it bloody! This is absolutely what Tarantino does best, and I won’t spoil anything but it doesn’t disappoint.
With such a large and talented cast, I thought it would be difficult to care about too many people at once, but there aren’t really any weak links as far as this goes. The standouts are definitely Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins though. There is great chemistry between the two, and they easily have the best exchanges. Jennifer Jason Leigh is also outstanding as the prisoner Daisy Domergue. I don’t know about her chances of winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but she definitely deserves that nomination.
Saving the best for last possibly, the score and soundtrack in The Hateful Eight is amazing. Ennio Morricone just made the Original Score category at the Oscars the most competitive one; forget Best Picture! Apparently using some of the unused score from The Thing, Morricone’s score is strange and wonderful, and perfectly fits the film it accompanies.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t get the nods this film is getting for cinematography. Tarantino’s films are always great to look at, but I didn’t think it was outstanding in this film. The outside shots were great, but there wasn’t that many of them. I loved the extreme close-ups used in the cabin, but in an unchanging setting, it is difficult to make the shots stand out.
The Tarantino narration was slightly jarring, as it was a trope introduced well over halfway into the film, with no word of warning! To me, this was the only thing that felt self-indulgent, and for a few minutes it took me away from fully immersing myself in the movie. However, it did work with the intermission as it occurred right after that. It almost served as a reminder of what you might have forgotten about whilst you were having a comfort break or grabbing another drink! I can imagine it would have been much more jarring without the intermission.
I saw this movie and you should too. I enjoyed this film more than I was expecting to, and whilst it is not one I would rush to see again at the cinema, it is definitely one I would watch again at home. It’s bloody, brilliant, bold, and full of all the great Tarantino-ness you could want! Don’t let the runtime put you off, wear something comfy, settle in, and enjoy!
Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.