Movie Review: The Hateful Eight

January 14, 2016

John Sadler

Features Editor| jts040@ latech.edu

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company


Quentin Tarantino is a pop culture icon, a once-maverick (now explicitly mainstream) filmmaker obsessed with churning out homages to the films of his youth.


The elements of his movies basically remain the same: heavy dialogue, extreme gore and a “come and get me” attitude designed to poke at the sometimes prudish nature of American audiences. All of these are on display in his newest feature, “The Hateful Eight,” a movie that can only be defined as a western by its setting.


Set in a waystation named Minnie’s Haberdashery, the film is essentially a drawn-out murder mystery. Unfortunately, it’s all really, really boring. The movie does have everything a Tarantino fan wants: “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” levels of blood, angry men constantly glaring at each other and a soundtrack primarily made up of Spaghetti Western orchestrations. But it’s executed in a sloppy mess that feels more like one of the Tarantino knockoffs so popular in the early 2000s rather than a film from the main man himself.


The razor-sharp dialogue that makes “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction” and arguably “Inglorious Basterds” masterpieces is here made dreadfully slow. The gunfight, which is obviously inevitable, comes after almost an hour and a half of straight dialogue in which Tarantino penned nothing of substance. Generally, there are enough quotable bits to give even the most virulent hater something to talk about for a while. Walton Goggins’s ridiculous hillbilly talk (“I’ll be double-dog damned”) and the n-word.


The film definitely earns its “hateful” moniker. The characters are all outright demented. While Tarantino is no stranger to morally-gray characters, generally he gives them enough charm to make the audience enjoy watching them. Here they are all morally repugnant, overly violent bullies. The humor and wit in “Pulp Fiction” and “Inglorious Bastards” is not only less here, it’s entirely nonexistent.


Walton Goggins and Samuel Jackson are wonderful, as always, but their charms can’t make the script any more watchable. Kurt Russell carries his scenes with his best John Wayne impression, but the others are given too little to ever truly shine.


There are a few scenes in the movie that go beyond violent and into ridiculous territory, including a rather graphic rape scene. It left me wincing, not because of the subject matter, but because, ultimately, there was no point to it. It watches like Tarantino is just trying to see how far he can go before somebody calls foul.


This film shares only the negatives with “Django.” Tarantino almost seems to be daring us to like it, and it’s a challenge I failed utterly.


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