REVIEW: THE HATEFUL EIGHT


★★★★

I was fairly late when it came to hopping onto the Tarantino bandwagon. Always claiming to be more of a Wes Anderson kind of girl, I neglected Tarantino's movies until only a few years ago. It was one of those late nights where you're flicking through the channels on TV, looking for a film to half halfheartedly watch and fall asleep to. Discovering that Kill Bill had just started, I settled on that. Two hours later, I was still wide awake, sat up intently, eyes glued to the screen. Within days I had made my way through Kill Bill: Volume 2, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, cursing myself for not welcoming the stylistic magic of Tarantino into my life sooner. The Hateful Eight was the first Tarantino film I got to see in a cinema. Cue some seriously high expectations.


The Hateful Eight tells the story of eight strangers who are forced to take shelter together in a claustrophobic and dimly lit haberdashery, while a whirling blizzard takes control of the world outside. The events which take place once all of the strangers are united in this building are filled with suspense and tightly scripted. However, what lets The Hateful Eight down by a degree is the hour and a half of slow moving narrative which unravels prior to these scenes. With the majority of the first half of the film being set in the stuffy confinements of a small stage coach, I found myself musing over how many more wandering strangers John Ruth (Kurt Russell) could discover in the snow before they were all sitting on top of one another. After much repetition in scripting and story, Ruth settles on sharing his ride with just three strangers, and we are whisked away to the location where the real Tarantino magic begins.

The second half of the movie is where things really started to pick up for me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the first half of the film in it's own right. The scripting was solid enough, and there was enough interesting cinematography to promise that good things were just around the corner. But while watching I couldn't help but wish that some of the footage had been left behind in the editing stages, so we could get to the good bit. It felt as though I, like the characters cramped in the stage coach, had to endure a long and slightly painful journey before arriving at the shack, where I could finally sit back and watch the heavy stuff start to unfold. As soon as Major Warren (Samuel L Jackson) steps through the unhinged door of the haberdashery, the gore, drama and experimental flair that every Tarantino fan hopes for starts to unfold. With the introduction of four new characters seated within the dark corners, the script and dynamics of the actors begins to feel exciting and refreshed.

scripting and casting aside, the most memorable part of The Hateful Eight for me was the breathtakingly gorgeous cinematography from Robert Richardson. With graphic and gory deaths taking place in the juxtaposing setting of a dimly lit haberdashery which your grandma could have decorated, and a blizzard raging outside which has coated everything in a white blanket, brought out by blue hues, The Hateful Eight truly is a feast for the eyes. What is even more striking is the fact that the films main setting of the haberdashery never becomes uninteresting, despite it being one of only two locations in the entire film. Unlike the bare and stripped back scenes taking place in the stage coach which force your wandering eyes to take a break, the second half of the film does just the opposite. Although everything takes place in this one room, it feels as though each character has their own space, completely detached from the others.  When the camera pans around the room, it is as though we're taking a journey which stretches much further than just wall to wall.

Although slow starting, The Hateful Eight picks itself up, and delivers a Tarantino style final punch, with an ending which will leave you feeling satisfied until the ninth film makes its way onto our screens. Although the scripting is not as witty as Pulp Fiction, and the casting not as accurate as Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight delivers a story rich in mystery, drama and suspense, rightfully claiming its place among the directors other iconic movies.

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