The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight [2015] is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino and stars his usual cast people including Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins and Tim Roth among others. The film is set in the dead of winter in the mountains where a bounty hunter and his bounty find themselves locked in a small cabin with a bunch of nefarious characters.

Pretentious. The Hateful Eight is the first time while watching one of his motion pictures when I truly felt like Tarantino is in love with his own writing. The film is barely action driven and mostly dialogue based (as are most of his films), however, this time, the expeditionary dialogue is overwhelming and not clever in the slightest. There is a joke involving a door and a block of wood that beats you over the head countless times until it’s not funny anymore and makes you groan instead of chuckle. The structural imbalance that we’ve come to see in most Tarantino films doesn’t work here at all. Instead, it feels forced and unfinished like the first draft of a screenplay.

Hits all the acting beats. As always, the performances across the board are impeccable. From Samuel L Jackson to Jennifer Jason Leigh, they all seem like they’re having a blast and ultimately make the film somewhat watchable. Walton Goggins is a revelation here and plays probably the most layered character in the entire film.

Technically impressive. From a technical standpoint, The Hateful Eight works as well as all of Tarantino’s films. The music that overlays the film is magical, as is the cinematography. The 70MM work is gorgeous; I just wish he used this format for a film with a bigger narrative pull to showcase the natural beauty of 70-millimeter film.

Something he didn’t want to make. The biggest problem with The Hateful Eight is that it just feels like a film that wasn’t supposed to come out. The film is narratively mean and while that can sometimes work, it doesn’t here due to the sheer lack of a central “good character”. Every single cast member plays a horrible character with no redeeming qualities and by the end of the film, they all deserved to die, so when they all meet their grim end, it never feels satisfying and it surely doesn’t feel surprising. The dialogue embedded in the script is very explosion-heavy and would rather tell you something than visually show you. The jokes in itself aren’t very clever and are overtly repetitious. The screenplay just doesn’t feel on par with most of Tarantino’s other works. It feels like something he wrote when he was in a bad place in his personal life and wasn’t supposed to reach the general public- but hey, it did.

Beyond the technical charm, The Hateful Eight is nowhere near as good as Tarantino’s other films and often times feels narratively unfocused and pretentious.