Owen Currie reviews Quentin Tarantino’s latest feature, which left him in disappointment.
A few weeks ago, a good friend went to the 70mm showing of The Hateful Eight in London. We spoke afterwards and such was his enjoyment of the film, that he actually questioned whether it was Tarantino’s best film to date. I have now watched Quentin’s 8th feature, and if I have learned anything, it’s to never listen to my friend again.
The Hateful Eight follows eight equally tenacious fellows, caught up in a fateful two day encounter, sheltering from a blizzard in a haberdashery. For me, ‘the hateful eight’ are actually the key to this film’s downfall. Over acted, over stylised, and genuinely un-captivating. Each character has their own title and panto-like role such as the hangman, the prisoner and the Mexican. This only pushes the characters into a single, over extravagant persona, and removes the possibility of depth or complexity entirely.
Dull chatter, then dull splatter; The Hateful Eight is miles away from Tarantino’s best. It is flat, and actually quite boring.
Perhaps Tarantino’s style is not helped by the majority of the film taking place in one room. He is not given the scope or freedom to explore scenes of entirely different style and setting, as was done in Kill Bill for example, two films in which each new chapter bought a startling change, be it black and white, setting, even anime. This element of surprise is what makes Tarantino’s films so enjoyable, and this is only present in a single chapter of The Hateful Eight, in which a narration is introduced. I draw comparisons to the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds, and to the concluding scene in Pulp Fiction, horrifyingly tense conversations with dramatic consequences.
It would be unfair to review this film however, without mentioning it’s single redeeming feature, Daisy Domergue … played superbly by Jennifer Jason-Leigh, she supplies a much needed breath of fresh air, and cuts through the dull haze of the film with force.
There are a few tense moments, but they are genuinely incomparable when put against these masterful scenes of incredible drama. The film concludes with a barrage of violence; sensational gore that only Tarantino can get away with. I don’t have a problem with the violence in Tarantino’s films, and some of his ludicrously violent scenes are actually some of my favourites. However, The Hateful Eight isn’t crazy, funny, tense or interesting enough to provide a backbone to any of the gore in the last 20 minutes, and they are as boring as the rest of the film, only there is blood and brains everywhere.
It would be unfair to review this film however, without mentioning it’s single redeeming feature, Daisy Domergue, a character with enough appalling charm to fit in to any of Tarantino’s best films. Played superbly by Jennifer Jason-Leigh, she supplies a much needed breath of fresh air, and cuts through the dull haze of the film with force.
Since wasting my evening watching The Hateful Eight, I have re-watched Django Unchained, and it truly is everything that The Hateful Eight isn’t. I realised whilst watching Django, (which I think is Tino’s best film since Pulp) that what is entirely absent in The Hateful Eight, is comedy. In Django you have laugh out load moments, fist pump moments, mirrored with a genuinely affecting and dramatic backbone. Perhaps Tarantino is abandoning the brash and the comedic for subtlety, but his style just doesn’t click without that excitement.
Dull chatter, then dull splatter; The Hateful Eight is miles away from Tarantino’s best. It is flat, and actually quite boring. My untrustworthy friend tells me I don’t get it, but I honestly don’t think there is anything to get.
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Channing Tatum, Walton Goggins
Nominations: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jennifer Jason-Leigh), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score
Why You Should Watch It & What It Is Missing:
The Hateful Eight is Tarantino’s most disappointing feature to date. The characters contribute massively to the films dreary and dead beat tone, which concludes in a cacophony of pointless and uninteresting violence.
The Worldly Rating: ***