As a Quentin Tarantino fan I went into this film with high expectations. Sadly, my expectations were not met and I feel like this is Tarantino’s weakest film to date. Written from a stage reading, The Hateful Eight is a “bottle movie” that has very little of Tarantino’s usual wit and charm and seems to rely solely on the same old character tropes of his previous films while at the same time attempting to shock the audience.
Sometime after the Civil War a group of eight strangers find themselves in a cabin during a blizzard. One of them is a bounty hunter, played by Kurt Russell, with a captive female criminal, Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. As they begin to reveal who one another are within the cabin they begin to find themselves mixed in a plot to free Daisy. Someone or some people are not who they say they are.
The Hateful Eight has artful shots of the wilderness and some great close-ups that truly make the film beautiful. The films has an amazing score that is incredibly well thought out and uses Ennio Morricone’s best abilities to capture the isolation and coldness of the scenes on screen. The look is gritty and the cold howls of the Wyoming wind on screen create chills in the audience.
The story itself is a fairly pedestrian whodunit. There are gaping holes in the logic and the anachronistic language can take a person right out of the film if not careful. The characters are all fairly unlikable save for Kurt Russell and Walton Goggins whose characters seem to have actual dimensions. The first half of the story has very little action but as soon as the second half occurs it is nearly all action and becomes little distracting.
Compared to other movies that have come out recently, this movie is certainly a renter. If you are fan of Tarantino’s earlier films you will be disappointed. When better dark Westerns such as Bone Tomahawk have come out recently then people have to bring their A-material to the table and not rely on the same stable of actors or gratuitous exploitation, like a black man forcing a white man to fellate him in the freezing cold. At what point do we ask Tarantino: “Is this all you have?” Certainly, he can do more than try to shock audiences with cheap tricks.