The Hateful Eight: Derivative and Disappointing

January 27, 2016
Chris Bright breaks down why Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ is his least favourite film from the director.

Until now, there wasn’t a film of Quentin Tarantino’s I didn’t love or at least admire in some way. And as much as I didn’t want to be saying this, The Hateful Eight is my least favourite of his to date.

This is the first time I haven’t walked out of a Tarantino film thinking “That’s something I’ve never seen before”.

It’s no secret to fans of Tarantino that he pays homage to techniques, styles and character traits from classic cinema – but The Hateful Eight is the first time he hasn’t repackaged it into something that at least felt original.

The editing tricks used here feel more like a film student showing off, rather than an experienced filmmaker using them strategically as a vehicle for the story or enhancing the cinematic experience.

Things like slow motion close ups, title cards to break up chapters and moments of extreme violence for sheer shock value, all seemed overused and mostly unnecessary. Even the so-called “whodunit” twist was an anticlimax.

What’s perhaps most disappointing is Tarantino’s dialogue – after all, he’s supposed to be the master.

In year nine English I learnt the importance of “show don’t tell”, which basically means a good story teller can reveal everything about a character without having to say the actual words.

While introducing the pivotal characters here, Tarantino takes the easy way out. Their individual stories don’t evolve, instead we go through one-by-one with lines like, “Is that Major Marquis Warren? He’s the guy who did this and this…” or “Do you know why they call him The Hangman? It’s because of this and this…”

It’s just sloppy.

In that sense this film feels more like a series of conversations, rather than a complete story. It’s not like Kill Bill or Django Unchained, which had a hero on a journey toward revenge. And it doesn’t break apart the narrative like Pulp Fiction or Inglourious Basterds. Not one character here transitions from one point to another, they’re just bad people doing bad things and we come out not liking them more or even less than we did.

Sure, it’s not the worst film this year but it’s nowhere near the standard we’ve come to expect from Tarantino. Even the soundtrack is surprisingly disappointing, which is typically the icing on his ordinarily perfect cakes.

And just if you’re interested, if I ever did have to rank Tarantino’s films from best to worse, it’d go:

Pulp Fiction

Jackie Brown

Inglourious Basterds

Death Proof (half of Grindhouse)

Reservoir Dogs

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Django Unchained

Kill Bill Vol. 2

The Hateful Eight

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