Review: The Hateful Eight

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DIR: Quentin Tarantino • WRI: Quentin Tarantino • PRO: Richard N. Gladstein, Shannon McIntosh, Stacey Sher • DOP: Robert Richardson • ED: Fred Raskin • DES: Yohei Taneda • MUS: Ennio Morricone • CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Quentin Tarantino hates you. He really hates your guts. His hatred for humanity is all too clear from this hateful film The Hateful Eight, coincidentally his eighth feature film and by far his worst. He feels no shame for this utterly brazen and immense hatred. He is proud of it. This film is his best expression of contempt for his audience and indeed life itself.

Do you agree with Danny Boyle’s rule-of-thumb that there’s rarely a good reason for a film to be longer than two hours? Quentin Tarantino loathes you. He will punish you with a pace slower than the melting of glaciers for more than two and a half hours for a story easily told in half the time. He will draw scenes out as long as they can be with over-written repetitive dialogue bereft of any charm it had in his other films.

Do you love the characters he and his collaborators have brought to life on-screen before? Tarantino’s had enough of that for now. The clue is in the title. Every character in The Hateful Eight is hateful in a literal sense, so despicable that there is no reason to be invested in what happens to any of them. When a mystery unfolds surrounding the poisoning of coffee, that could still have been an interesting dynamic to see play out, had it not taken almost two hours of tedium for the film to reach that point.

Do you invest in his reputation for writing strong female characters? Among the male-dominated cast of characters, the outlaw Daisy Domergue has tenacity and roughness in the hopes that these superficial traits hide that she is a damsel-in-distress and a plot device. She is also loathsome in every way, giving you no reason to wish her success in overcoming the captors bringing her to justice. At the same time however, you have no reason to enjoy the really distasteful and repeated violence inflicted on her.

Do you appreciate his attempts at writing strong characters for people of colour? He wants you to shove it. Sit back and watch Demián Bichir wasted on a stereotype of Mexicans so egregious, that even Robert Rodriguez would surely reprimand him and that’d be coming from a director who once cast Willem Dafoe in brown-face. Hear so much about the vivacious shack-owner Minnie and then discover an outdated black mammy caricature when she shows up. Assume Samuel L Jackson’s character is an upright bad-ass who walks the path of the righteous man, as it were. Turns out he’s a lying scoundrel who rapes people as punishment.

Oh yes. In what has to be one of the film’s most bizarrely misjudged scenes, of which there are far too many to choose from, he recounts to the father of a man he murdered that he had forced the man to fellate him. This man was a racist confederate so that might make one less inclined to care about his well-being. If, however, Samuel L Jackson’s character reveals that he considers rape a fitting punishment, hilarious in its symbolism, one also cares significantly less about his. As you should any character who considers rape appropriate in any circumstance ever.

But perhaps you like it when Tarantino pushes limits? Well just because a film is “challenging” does not make it good and the circular logic that anyone who doesn’t enjoy a film like this is either a baby or a prude is such a lazy strawman defence. Tarantino still hates you though and he seems intent on making you regret what you wish for. It’s not just wounds and severed limbs that gush with obscene amounts of blood; poisoned characters vomit blood in such ludicrous quantities that it passes beyond the cartoonish fun of his previous films and just becomes obnoxious.

Did you like how brilliantly Pulp Fiction played around with chronological order? Tarantino hates that you did, so very much and this time around, he is going to have a clumsy, snail-paced flashback entitled “Earlier that morning…” more than two hours into this bloated mess.

Do you care about film in general, as a medium for visual storytelling? Tarantino despises you. This brings us to the moment where he atrociously fails as a filmmaker. There are several scenes of characters talking about each other’s back-stories. We do not see these past exploits; we see characters sitting in a coach or a shack talking about these past exploits even when they sound like more interesting stories to see than the film we got. Characters are not revealed through action but through other characters talking about them. This is not how film as a narrative medium works and it is astonishing that a seasoned filmmaker with Oscars and a Palme D’Or needs this explained to him.

The truly unforgivable lapse in competency comes long after the film’s half-way point when we hear a narrator’s voice that had not been introduced previously, explain additional details about what different characters are doing. Rather than conveying that information visually. LIKE A FILM. Who is the narrator? Quentin Tarantino himself, of course. This is basically a filmmaker of iconic status, openly admitting that he has failed as a filmmaker. The film got to the point where his footage was no longer good enough and he personally stepped in to fill in the gaps. That this voice-over is established so late in the film is what makes the crutch so glaringly obvious.

This, along with so many other baffling decisions, amount to such an abject failure in basic, fundamental, visual storytelling that it could only have been deliberate. It is as if Tarantino is intentionally, purposefully trolling the world by setting out to frustrate audiences as much as possible. And the only defence flimsier than “you just didn’t like it because it was challenging” is “I don’t make films for audiences; I make films I want to see”. This is a new low for him and you can absolutely afford to skip it.

Jonathan Victory

18
167 minutes (See IFCO for details)

The Hateful Eight is released 8th January 2016

The Hateful Eight – Official Website

 

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The Hole

The Hole

DIR: Joe Dante • WRI: Mark L. Smith • PRO: Claudio Fäh, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak, Vicki Sotheran • DOP: Theo van de Sande • ED: Marshall Harvey • DES: Brentan Harron • CAST: Teri Polo, Haley Bennett, Bruce Dern

The Hole in 3D sees the long-awaited return of iconic director Joe Dante after six years away from our screens. Dante can be credited with the re-invention of the horror genre and remains one of very few iconic horror directors who have genuine staying power. With movies like Gremlins, Dante re-positioned the horror movie as something parents could experience with their children, rather than something children needed to be protected from. During Dante’s absence horror has seemingly returned to its generic no-man’s-land with very few films having true screen merit, beyond a barrage of ‘torture porn’. Here, Dante seeks to re-invent the genre again, and succeeds.

The Hole follows the story of two brothers who move to a new home with their mother to escape their tyrannical father. Dante’s staple here is the use of horror cliché to create anticipation in his audience, both young and old. We all inevitably see them move to a new home  – when it comes to horror, moving house is never a good sign. Older brother Dane struggles to accept the move until he realises they live next door to the gorgeous Julie, whilst younger brother Lucas is unphased and strives to irritate his brother. The brothers and their new tag-along freind Julie find a trap door in their basement and, as the horror genre dictates, basements are never nice places, and heavily padlocked trap-doors just scream ‘open me’. Once the hole is opened, they are hunted by ‘the dark’, which takes the form of their darkest fears.

Dante’s work is extraordinary in its ability to frighten both children and adults whilst simultaneously remaining entertaining. He never fails to include some markers of recognition for adults. When they lower a Cartman doll into the hole, he omits a tirade of abuse which won’t fail to make you giggle. Mark L. Smith has written a very solid and entertaining script here, we believe our family as a unit and Nathan Gamble is outstanding as younger brother Lucas. Haley Bennett’s Julie is somewhat superfluous as a character, and her relationship with Dane (Chris Massoglia) becomes unnecessary next to Gamble’s performance.

For a family horror film, it is genuinely frightening in parts, and I may or may not have fallen prey to some of the ‘jump-scares’. Creepy little disjointed children are always scary, but somehow, in a movie made for kids, they become even more so. The special effects are outstanding, from an eerily listless little ghost girl to a murderous doll, it is flawless. The only issue throughout is the use of 3D. The Hole in 3D really doesn’t need to be in 3D; throughout the film it is used only in gimmicky moments and is an unnecessary afterthought.

With an ending which utilises Maria Montessori to make the over-sized world in which children move a frightening one, Dante’s message here is that they can grow and overcome anything, including monsters and things that go bump in the night. Here we have a genuinely engaging and entertaining horror movie that will both inspire and frighten, and that’s no mean feat. Joe Dante is back, and whilst the ’80s kids rejoice, he gears up to scare a new generation of horror fans.

If you have a fear of clowns, this one might not be for you, otherwise this is a rare treat that you won’t want to miss.

Ciara Lianne O’Brien

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Hole
is released on 24th September 2010

The Hole Official Website

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