The Hateful Eight

The movie, “The Hateful Eight”, is difficult to classify as it is not quite a real move as much as an attempt to probe the outer limits of weirdness.   While the production quality is excellent, the scenery breathtaking, the acting by well respected names in the industry flawless and even inspired, and all the plot ingredients well-crafted to lie within the genre of a classical Western movie, the net result is something uniquely other.

My immediate reaction after all the credits ended was to wonder what I had been doing for the last three hours.  I suspected I had seen a move but even now I can’t quite be certain.  My strongest and most enjoyable emotion was a bemused and slightly bewildered sense of horror.

As the title suggests, there are indeed eight prominent characters.   And each one is a well developed individual the audience can easily recognize and identify with.   Indeed, one of the few attractions is guessing who from the ever dwindling cast will be the next to get their well-deserved comeuppance.   Shifting motivations and allegiances do provide a glimmer of interest.

The heroine, on the other hand, gives a world-class performance as a punching bag.  Her role was apparently written to be devoid of any personality, any mannerisms that would identify her as a unique individual, any intelligible dialog longer than a single sentence, or indeed any contribution whatever to the plot to include influencing the actions of her fellow victims.

But more than that, the movie notably displays a complete disregard for any feminine sensibilities.  Rather every female is routinely dispatched before any audience sympathy could possibly develop for her character.  It is almost as if the director, Tarantino, were trying to make a statement or a joke just beyond the limits of audience perception.   Almost as if he were in some weird way suffering in the aftermath of a really nasty divorce coupled with unbridled and debilitating drug overdoses.

In stark contrast, the movie displays a love of horses not one whom was mistreated in any way.  As befitting a Western, the dialog is low key and low brow. Also, apparently to reduce production costs and effectively generate an intense sense of claustrophobia all action takes place in a large, albeit a well-stocked but snow-bound, single-room cabin.   To over-emphasize the situation, a standing joke centers on having to continuously and laboriously nail the front door shut with a grim determination and uniformly without complaint.

Each scene seems to last forever with occasional outbreaks of unimaginable violence complete with copious amounts of blood and gore.  These rampages are randomly unleashed on unsuspecting characters, interspersed with interminable dialog hinting at a return to civility, only to slowly degrade into prolonged bouts of imaginative sadism.

All in all this is a movie that will haunt you long after the initial shock has passed.    If you like sticking needles in your tender parts to feel more alive, this is certainly the movie for you, but otherwise probably not.