“The Hateful Eight” (2015) might be the first Quentin Tarantino film that I entirely disliked. I’d rate it a 3 out of 10 for being an overlong, overwrought story inhabited almost exclusively by irritating, overly stylized characters who are constantly shouting. It was alternately boring and grotesque. It even managed to occasionally be glumly depressing, given the violence it depicts against defenseless innocents.
And I’m surprised, because this movie was highly recommended to me by my college-aged nephew — he’s a smart kid whose judgment I trust. I certainly hope that he has seen Tarantino’s classic “Reservoir Dogs” (1992), as that movie seems to be this one’s direct inspiration. Throughout “The Hateful Eight’s” lengthy running time (it clocks in at just over three hours), I kept thinking that this was a failed effort to transplant “Reservoir Dogs'” story setup to the old west.
That probably was the director’s strategy here. You see an attempt to recreate all of the story elements that made the earlier movie a success: quirky characters; idiosyncratic dialogue; unexpected violence; tragedy; and black humor.
Regrettably, it just didn’t work. The movie was so long — and so loud — that it even made priceless performers like Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth come off as annoying.
For me, the movie’s sole bright spot was Jennifer Jason Leigh’s damned terrific portrayal of the plot-driving, brutal gangster, Daisy Domergue. I had no idea that Leigh had such incredible range (not to mention some Vaudeville-style comic timing). Her performance isn’t enough to redeem the movie, but it surprised me and easily stole the show.
Look — if this is the first Tarantino movie you’ve seen, then please don’t let it dissuade you from seeing the man’s other work. Seriously, go watch “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction” (1994) or “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996).