The Hateful Eight. The newest instalment in the Tarantino filmography. Let me start by saying I really enjoy Tarantino films. He is a master of immersion, dialogue driven story telling and truly creating an experience for the audience. The Hateful Eight is no exception. I definitely did enjoy it, however I walked away from the movie a little unsatisfied. Spoilers to follow so if you haven’t seen it yet, wait and read this after watching the film.
In essence The Hateful Eight is an intricate ‘who done it’ movie, that many are claiming to be a mix between Reservoir Dogs and Clue, a comparison you can greatly appreciate after someone poisons the coffee. According to Quentin Tarantino the film takes place “6,8, or 10 years after the civil war,” you get to decide. The majority of the film takes place in an outpost on a mountain during a terrible blizzard. There are, of course, eight people locked up together: war veterans from the south, war veterans from the north, bounty hunters, a criminal, and a professional hangman. Describing this multifarious group just sounds like drama waiting to happen, and boy does it.
The Hateful Eight did many things right in my opinion. I’m not going to get into the technical aspects of the unique way it was filmed, or how it pulled songs from different movies to create different emotions and make you think “hey, I know that” (although the score by Ennio Morricone was amazing). Just know it looks and sounds great. Tarantino truly nails atmosphere in this movie. There is a blizzard going on and it makes you actually feel cold. As a friend of mine said, you feel relief yourself whenever a character drinks some fresh hot coffee, or stands by the fire. Add to this the tension driving dialogue about race, justice, and the overarching mystery of ‘who is not who they say they are’, and you are left with a captivating story without the need for flashy visualizations.
Now what didn’t work for me:
Unnecessarily long. I am all for a long movie, there is nothing worse then a story that feels rushed, and I refuse to go to theatres if a movies run time is less then two hours. Ninety minutes is just not enough time to tell a great story. However, in the case of this movie, I did feel like it was too long. It takes a half hour just for the characters to get to the outpost where the story takes place, and from then on the movie pace is fine, but I do remember feeling like it was dragging on in those beginning scenes, and that in itself can destroy the immersion for an audience.
Gave up the reveal too fast. Part of the fun with this movie is trying to figure out who is not who they say they are, so another issue for me was how fast the reveal happens in the movie. One minute your sitting there going, OK this person was over there so he couldn’t have done it, and this person was there, so that leaves these people…. and then next moment boom, you know the whole story. I felt they could have drawn that out a bit to keep you guessing a bit longer; It would have made the twist have a greater impact.
No redeeming character. I understand that the movie is called “The Hateful Eight”, but the lack of a redeeming character, one that the audience can get behind, leads this movie to be very surface level. Sure it deals with some greater themes in its dialogue, but if the audience doesn’t care about the characters then when they die it is meaningless to us. For it also to end in that macabre final scene where the two remaining characters are joyful and without remorse in their brutal hanging of a woman shows us a lack of character growth, and thus lacking a sufficient conclusion to the story. Continuing on that thought…
The ending was unsatisfying. To me this movie felt like an incomplete story. It felt as though Tarantino only showed us the second act (a very long second act). We got no beginning, and no conclusion. All of the characters have goals and none of them are able to complete them, or even get close. It is implied that no one even survives in the end, and with it’s lack of an overarching premise leaves you with a feeling of what was the point?
The acting in this movie is amazing. The setting and atmosphere superb. The witty, thought provoking, and tension driving dialogue carried the movie, but in the end it lacked a certain something to make it great. It is not one I would tell people “oh you have to go see this”, but to its credit it is a movie that has stuck with me and I am still thinking about days later. I give it a solid 7 out of 10 despite the unsatisfying ending for all its other redeeming qualities.
What are your thoughts on this movie? Loved it? Hated it? Let me know in the comments below.