The Hateful Eight
I didn’t have high expectations for Hateful Eight. After Django, which had a lot of strengths, dont get me wrong, I was worried that Tarantino was delving into self-indulgence a little too much. Now I realize that’s like saying Scrooge McDuck may have had a little too much money, but that’s how I felt. And based on what I saw leading up to this film, it really seemed like he was going to continue down that road.
But instead what I got was a very interesting, well-constructed Western, which looking back was exactly what was promised all along. The plot sets up tension right from the get-go as Kurt Russell’s bounty hunter character is trying to transport the criminal Daisy to town to get a reward. However, a blizzard is coming and not only does he have to pick up more passengers, he also has to spend the next day or two in an inn on the road with a bunch of strangers he can’t trust. There’s a lot of drama to be found in this premise, and find it they do.
The Hateful Eight works very, very well in many ways. First, it looks amazing. The production design feels authentic, while the cinematography is beautiful and very reminiscent of old epic westerns, with lots of mountainous backgrounds and the like. Ennio Morricone’s score is not used too often, but is excellent when it does appear.
I also really like the story behind this whole production. It plays out like a murder mystery, Agatha Christie style. Its got a slow, tense build-up which leads to surprising revelations and plot twists and is just a whole lotta fun to watch. Tarantino uses his usual chapter style of narrative which he is so fond of (even using the same font as Kill Bill), but I ended up being okay with that. Oh yeah, and the performances are great. Seriously. If they weren’t this movie simply wo0uldn’t work.
However, there is one hang up I have, one nagging thing which keeps this from reaching greatness. The violence. Now hear me out. I know, I know, this is the guy who had a room full of blood spraying and hacked off limbs in Kill Bill and what-have-you. But I must say that the violence here seems rather out of place and, well, childish. What we’ve been given is perhaps Tarantinto’s most mature movie to date, but then we get these sudden violent outbursts where peoples heads are literally exploding, and guts are running down people’s hair. And we’re not talking realistic violence that speaks to the gritty, messy time period. Its cartoonish gore, in what is otherwise a very adult movie. Its like he just couldn’t help himself, he just had to throw some candy into the stew even if it didn’t fit.
So I guess that self-indulgence I was worried about did peek its head out. Otherwise, great movie.