ROK’s Flicks: The Hateful Eight

I hated The Hateful Eight! I loved the style, the magnificent script, the cinematography, the quality and beauty of it

I hated The Hateful Eight!

I loved the style, the magnificent script, the cinematography, the quality and beauty of it in 70mm print. It opens with a 3-minute old styled Overture, then after 2 hours, gives us an Intermission. The credits are written in old script, and the music by multi-award winning composer Ennio Morricone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Untouchables, The Mission etc.) was magical. But the fairy-tale soon ended.

I’ve listened to all the hype about this being Quentin Tarantino’s “trademark” style, long been recognised as an outrageous, brilliant but bizarre filmmaker but the violence was really over the top brutality. Just how much “blood and guts” can one filmgoer stomach?

The Hateful Eight is a western set in post Civil War; it begins in the beautiful snow-covered mountains of Wyoming, where far in the distance we can see a stagecoach bleakly making its way towards us in a relentless snowstorm. In the stagecoach is John aka “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell, doing a very faithful impression of John Wayne) a bounty hunter taking his foul-mouthed prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to Red Rock for his remuneration and her hanging.

Two “hitchhikers” are also caught in the blizzard and talk their way into getting onboard. Warren’s AKA “The Bounty Hunter” (Samuel L Jackson) old horse has succumbed to the weather but he has 3 very dead and frozen bodies to transport to Red Rock as his bounty. Warren is a Union Army veteran reputedly in possession of a personal letter from Abraham Lincoln, and is an old war acquaintance of John Ruth’s. The other traveller is Walton Goggins (Chris Mannix) an ex-Confederate and the soon-to-be appointed new sheriff of Red Rock.

As the storm intensifies they arrive on the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach and take shelter in an outpost, “Minnie’s Haberdashery”.

Already taking refuge here is Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), Michael Madsen (Joe Gage) and Bob, the Mexican caretaker of “Minnie’s” (Demain Bichir).

This is when the fun begins!

Polite introductory conversations around the coffee-pot soon detour into racial derisions and political taunts. No one is who we think they are.

With the exception of Ruth and the stagecoach driver, everybody in The Hateful Eight has some kind of secret that they’re hiding, some part of their background story that doesn’t check out, and some reason to hate all the other characters. At one point, Mobray proposes they divide the room between Union men and ex-Confederates, to prevent any further arguing.

Eventually the floorboards and bodies are slicked with blood and brain matter, I found this becoming gratuitous violence.

There are some very funny lines.

The usual Tarantino quirks are there – the characters are named after underrated directors, lesser B-movie starlets, and John Ford bit players. There are the usual out-of-time references e.g. to pen-pals (well before pens were invented), and after interval we have Tarantino’s voice-over giving us a catch-up.

I doubt there’ll be too many negative evaluations of this Tarantino 3 hour epic, after all, it is what you expect from QT, the humour, the anti-racism, (although there was a lot of the N-word) but I thought the brilliance of the whole production was out-weighed by the violence, horror and blood-spilling.


ROK’S RATINGS – 2.5 glasses bubbly