The Hateful Eight (2015) Review

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Eight is Enough

The Hateful Eight (2015): 7 out of 10: Quentin Tarantino should really remake The Thing. In fact, he easily could remake it with the cast and setting of this very film. Heck, he already has an incredible Oscar-winning score from Ennio Morricone who has unironically used unpublished excerpts from his The Thing soundtrack in The Hateful Eight’s Score.

The Thing vibe is really strong in this film.

He has The Thing star, Kurt Russell. He has an isolated cabin in a blizzard. If the cabin had some dogs outside that started barking when Samuel L. Jackson came near, this would have been a better movie for it. (And it would have let Morricone reuse some his soundtrack from that Kristy McNichol vehicle White Dog that he penned the same year as his Thing soundtrack.)

Jennifer Jason Leigh is not a secret vampire creature in this scene.

That the idea above is a bit film geeky and a silly genre switcheroo, which is what one used to hope for from a Tarantino film. This film, however, plays to its Western genre as if it is on rails.

Jennifer Jason Leigh sports a black eye through a large portion of the film.

Kurt Russell has a prisoner played by Jennifer Jason Leigh that he is stubbornly bringing in alive. He is convinced (correctly) that one or more people trapped in this cabin with him are working against him to free his charge. The movie threatens to break into a surprisingly engaging Agatha Christie-style mystery. Unfortunately, Tarantino undercuts his own narrative about the time it starts to get interesting. 

The Cabin is a bit like a TARDIS. Seemingly much larger on the inside than it appears from the outside.

This being a Tarantino movie, we are awash in an excess of blood, cruelty and racial epithets. Alas, the film simply doesn’t earn them as well as say Reservoir Dogs did. There are some great set pieces that I will not spoil but much of The Hateful Eight reminds me of an old-fashioned three-hour western such as Once Upon a Time in the West, or one of the Dollars trilogy. Seriously, have you sat through one of those films in one sitting in the last twenty years? It can be a slog. This film can be a slog.

There are not than many scenes outside of the cabin or stagecoach. I began to cherish them.

All the actors (san Madsen) do a great job. The soundtrack is wonderful. Parts of the movie such as the Agatha Christie bits mentioned above work well. Alas, there are some things that do not work. There is an overlong flashback that takes all the mystery out of the last act. Tarantino’s narration is jarring, poorly done, and unnecessary. The first hour of the movie takes that hour to tell twenty minutes of setup. 

Loyalty to an actor has its drawbacks.

Overall worth a watch for Tarantino fans and for Jennifer Jason Leigh’s fantastic performance. But like those three-hour westerns of old, I don’t see myself watching it again.

If I do watch The Hateful Eight again Walton Goggins’ performance will be a big reason why.
I love the detailed touch of the dead body on top of the Stagecoach.
Tarantino’s framing and blocking throughout The Hateful Eight is a masterclass
Jennifer Jason Leigh gets beaten up a lot in this movie. Kurt Russell defended this, stating it shows his character simply treated her as a prisoner rather than a woman. His take has merit.
Best use of reading glasses by a hero since Captain Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
More evidence of Tarantino’s command of the camera.
Seriously, The Shield star Walton Goggins is a breakout performance for me.
Here Walton Goggins is with a new life partner, Samuel L. Jackson.
Yes, I said life partner.
Ah, they are friends.
Michael Madsen had eleven films come out in 2020… during a pandemic. Though in all fairness, his staring role in Shark Season brought the nation together during these troubled times.
That Indian blanket looks very comfortable.
The trading post is happy to announce a special sale on Indian blankets, now with five easy payments. Two Liberty Head nickels gets it home with you today.
Neither Bruce Dern nor The South is rising out of that chair anytime soon.
The blocking and scope of this shot are amazing.
Another example of Tarantino’s masterful use of the camera. He is so consistent that you forget how important this is until you watch a movie that gets this all wrong. (Cough Lost Angelas cough)
Chekov’s passenger.
Since this scene ends with homosexual oral rape at gunpoint, I hate to call it a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment… but it is a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
Someone is having some fun in this scene.
The Guitar incident. Jennifer is playing an antique 1870s Martin guitar lent by the Martin Guitar Museum in its last moments of life. Russel thought it was the replacement prop guitar. Jennifer’s reaction is genuine and in the film. Overlooked by this kerfuffle is that Jennifer really can sing and play quite well.
In the next hour we have this wonderful Buffalo Bill tea set.
Better test that blood sample with a heated piece of wire.
You know a little Grandma’s will get that stain right out.
It is a shame that Tarantino doesn’t take his camera outside more because he does such a good job when he does.
Veteran stuntwoman Zoë Bell makes an appearance.
Happy woman in a Tarantino film? Better check their blood with a heated wire.
What?… checks notes… Hmm Channing Tatum is in the movie.
Jennifer saying “Rise my undead warriors” would have been a much better ending. Just saying.

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