Quentin Tarentino’s The Hateful Eight is an incredibly directed film with beautiful cinematography that begs audiences to see it in 70mm screens. The cast is phenomenal and the score is as important to the film’s ambiance as the freezing Wyoming winter.
But this is not a film for me.
The story itself is straightforward. Set some years after the American Civil War, the film quickly introduces us to John Ruth (Kurt Russell), a bounty hunter known as “The Hangman” for his knack of always turning his bounty in alive and ready to be hanged. On his way to turn in a wanted woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh), he is unable to outrun an incoming blizzard and forced to stay in a lodge along with six other men, each a potential risk to him and his bounty.
This Tarentino Western is filled with mystery and captivates the audience with its memorable characters. They are crude, violent and irredeemable. There are no heroes in this bunch. They would kill the hero before he or she even comes into frame. Due to each character’s selfishness, untrustworthiness and conflicting interests, the plot is able to surprise audiences with relative ease. Although the film nears the three-hour mark, it’s pacing is not too bad. Could Tarentino have made the film shorter? Yes. But the extra minutes did not hurt the film. The violence took care of that.
Were this film rated PG-13, I could have enjoyed it more. But it wasn’t. Tarentino used the R rating fully with unnecessary gore, each death more violent than the next. For those who hate gore, like myself, there are several moments spent with eyes shut. If blood makes one queasy, I suggest watching something else.
While some criticized the film for being misogynistic because of its violence toward women, I disagree. Yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue was on the receiving end of violence. But so were the other male characters. Had her character been male and gone through the same journey, these discussions would not even happen. The film does not glorify violence, against women or men. It goes out of its way to show audiences how gross and disturbing violence is. Violence is used to show how horrible every character is.
Ennio Morricone’s score is worth mentioning, since it is the first time Tarentino uses an original score. It is foreboding, distinctive and amplifies the film’s overall tone. When one hears it, they are immediately sent back to this film. Like films of old, Tarentino began with an overture that introduces the audience to the main theme, allowing the music to set the tone long before a word of dialogue is spoken.
Tarentino is one of the few people who can close their eyes, see the story they want to tell, and reproduce it exactly. If one can handle the gore, this is a fantastic film to watch. As for me, I will appreciate Tarentino from afar.
The Hateful Eight was released nationwide on December 30, 2015.