So I watched The Hateful Eight…
I was really excited to see this movie up until the part where I looked up the screening times online and found out that it was THREE HOURS long. So I got my affairs in order; packed a survival bag with as much food as I could get in there and said my goodbyes to my family and friends. I actually ended up having to watch this movie twice; because the first place where I tried to watch it had a problem with the synchronisation between the video and sound; so it was like watching one of those poorly-dubbed Kung-Fu movies from yesteryear. So, in the end, six hours of my life were spent trying to accomplish the feat of watching this film and believe me, it was a feat.
Okay, basic plot: While en route to Red Rock to deliver a bounty, John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell) runs into another bounty hunter – Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) who is stranded on the side of the road. Warren is desperately in need of ride to the nearest town to avoid an oncoming blizzard. Ruth reluctantly decides to give him a ride but is weary of Warren because he fears that this might all be a setup to steal his bounty – the deranged Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is worth $10 000. Further down the way the company of three is forced to pick up another passenger in the form of Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff of the town they’re racing towards. The company now made of four won’t be be able to reach Red Rock in time and decide it best to seek shelter in a nearby stagecoach lodge called Minnie’s Haberdashery. The company now run into four new suspicious strangers. Forced to remain in the lodge until the blizzard blows over, it soon becomes clear that none of the people in it are all that they claim to be and that Ruth’s bounty may be in jeopardy.
I try not to read reviews of movies before I’ve written my own review – which can be difficult because I often come across links to reviews because of the people I follow on various social media. These links often contain a little extract from the review – nothing major just four or five words. The one I saw before watching this movie was ‘The Hateful Eight – challenging but worth it’. I think that’s the best way to describe this movie. It was a challenge to watch because of the runtime and Tarantino’s style but it was also fiercely enjoyable for the very same reasons. Could this film have been shorter? Probably. There are a few scenes, especially in the beginning, that annoyed me. For example one of the first scenes in the movie is a stagecoach approaching the camera from a distance. You see the entire journey it makes, I don’t think that’s necessary to see. Just cut away and show us the wagon as it’s just about to approach. Now this happens one or two times in the film but cutting those scenes away would probably only make the movie five minutes shorter.
When I think Tarantino, I think two things: patient buildup and “there will be blood!”. While the runtime may seem (and feel) excessive it allows for one of my favourite things about Tarantino movies – rich characters. The characters in his movies always feel like their identities aren’t confined to the events of the film’s plot. They’re fully-formed individuals with histories and aspirations that extend beyond the story we’re presented. They’re also complex with no real distinction between the good and the bad guys. Everyone is a little bit of everything and this keeps the film – for the most part – unpredictable because you can’t ever trust anyone to behave the way you’d expect. The dialogue in this film is also fantastic with that classic Tarantino blend of profanity, sharp wit and the use of the N-word. The dialogue in this movie is often as bruising as the eventual blows the various characters exchange.
The acting in this movie is probably its best asset and that’s saying something. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh are the standouts. The individual actors put in really entertaining performances and really portray the complexity that Tarantino characters have – where you want to hate them because they’re despicable people but also love them because they’re so interesting. It’s hard to pick a favourite character but I think I enjoyed Daisy Domergue the most just because of Leigh’s expert performance. There’s this great scene where John Ruth is explaining how she’s going to be hung and she acts out herself hanging. It’s so funny and just perfectly encapsulates the insanity of the character. Leigh is well-deserving of her Oscar nomination. Tim Roth and Michael Madsen are also in this film and they just sort of hang out. They read their lines and go through the motions but don’t really do anything spectacular. Madsen seemed bored and unenthused most of the time; while Roth was busy putting on the most annoying British accent I’ve ever heard in my life.
Now as in all Tarantino movies, things have to break down and culminate in a bloodbath, which they do in spectacular fashion. I love the way Tarantino handles the depiction of violence in his films – it’s a bit excessive because of the explosions of blood but it also feels extremely real. This is probably one of my favourite Tarantino bloodbaths because the blood rains down from everywhere and is absolutely relentless. There’s one scene where two characters are in a scuffle and the one vomits blood onto the other’s face – it’s impossible to describe how jarring but at the same time visually pleasing it is to see something like that.
Overall, The Hateful Eight is another Tarantino masterpiece. It’s long but the length feels necessary because of the insight it provides on various characters. The acting is superb, as is the writing and direction. Tarantino films always have a clear sense of identity and it always feels like Tarantino, himself, is telling you a story. This film is worth watching but make sure you have plenty of snacks, drinks and pay an adequate visit to the bathroom before seeing it. 8/10