By Jason Abdow
While Quentin Tarantino’s movies are characterized by clever writing, memorable characters and (of course) plenty of blood, “The Hateful Eight” fell short when compared with the director’s other films.
While the film was far from unenjoyable, it was much grittier, dirtier and darker than any of Tarantino’s past works, and, for me, may very well be the only Tarantino film I wouldn’t willingly see twice.
The film’s story seemed to be a combination of “Django Unchained” and “Reservoir Dogs” as it follows a pair of bounty hunters and a prisoner who get stuck in a cabin with a group of other colorful characters during a blizzard.
Like “Reservoir Dogs,” the film is largely set in one location from which the audience witnesses all of the mayhem unfold. “The Hateful Eight,” however, is three hours long- giving Tarantino more time to fully develop and explore each character, making their individual motivations seem clearer and more understandable by the picture’s end.
This, of course, also lends itself to the movie’s incredible script. Tarantino proves in this film that he has grown as a writer by taking new risks instead of sticking to what has worked for him in the past, which as of late has tended to border on being cartoonish in nature.
This is not the case here, as all the dialogue and characters felt like they could truly fit into the real world. That is not to say that Tarantino did not have fun in his script, either. The film is rife with clever exchanges and humorous monologues that are sure to impress and satisfy any Tarantino fan.
Overall, I think this may very well be Tarantino’s most mature film. I was impressed not only with he story itself, but also with how it was actually told. The plot, which culminates in a murder-mystery, sneaks in gradually, not coming to true fruition until the midway point of the movie. While on paper this sounds like it could be boring, the execution kept it from feeling stagnant as it was carried by strong characters and interesting writing.
Samuel L. Jackson gives his best performance in years, coming across as more human than he typically does in Tarantino films. Jennifer Jason Leigh was also had a stand-out performance as a prisoner on her way to be hanged. Walton Goggins surprised me as well, playing the sheriff who’s characterization grows in the second half of the movie, leaving the audience with a highly likable and very tangible character.
The main qualm I have in regards to the film is that there were not many characters you’d want to actually support. While Goggins’s character became my favorite, he was still far from a good person. This makes it difficult for audiences to care about which character came out of this movie alive, considering how cruel and morally corrupt they all were. Like the characters, the movie as a whole was very dark and gritty, particularly towards the end, leaving me feeling dirty, disturbed and ultimately uncomfortable once it was over- something I was not expecting from Tarantino.
If you like Tarantino, you will probably like “The Hateful Eight,” however if you’re not particularly a fan of his, this movie is not likely to be a good fit for you. Despite its flaws, Tarantino created an excellent and engaging mystery that will have you invested for the entirety of the film’s three hours.
If I were to give this film a letter grade I would probably give it a B+. It was not as good as Tarantino’s other films, but has an interesting place in his filmography which gives it merits of its own.
Image by Matt Zoller Seitz (http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-hateful-eight-2015)