Crossing Over: “THE HATEFUL EIGHT”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Lexi Harrington
Welcome, FANGORIA Readers, to CROSSING OVER, a column that highlights the films, series and content out there outside of horror that is fashioned towards or pays tribute to our beloved genre. By shining a light onto these projects, FANGORIA hopes to open a world of entertainment perfect for fright fans that lies just beyond the borders of the horror community. So without further ado…
If anyone can make a Western movie that is suitable for horror fans, it is gore master Quentin Tarantino. His most recent film, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, finds eight rugged travelers trapped together as a storm rages outside. Viewers are invited to spend a tensely claustrophobic three hours within the dark wooden lodge that houses the characters. As the on-edge ensemble of bounty hunters and ex-military grow more and more distrustful of each other, the air becomes saturated with tension. You can literally feel the soon to come violence bubbling under the surface, steadily moving to a shrieking boil as the character’s push each other’s unstable temperaments to the breaking points. The insanely graphic blood bath that does indeed ensue is enough to make horror fans fall a little bit in love with the brutally wild West that Tarantino has created.
Although no supernatural horror or masked serial killer is about to jump out at you, the film still creates a distinct and almost uncomfortably potent feel of unease. The eerie mood is impressed upon viewers from the first moment of the film. THE HATEFUL EIGHT opens with shots of a desolate forest snowscape shown as Ennio Morricone’s sinister score warns of the depraved mayhem to come.
What’s possibly more unsettling than the dark forest setting is the mannerisms of the characters we are quickly introduced to. Samuel L. Jackson portrays Major Marquis Warren, a man who is quite openly still angry and disturbed by the Civil War, an event which has been over for only several years when the movie takes place. About to freeze to death in the snow, Major Marquis Warren hitches a ride in a carriage carrying Kurt Russel’s wise-cracking character, the bounty hunter John Ruth, and his sarcastic captive, Daisy Domergue, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. The travelers barely beat a deadly blizzard to an isolated lodge set in Wyoming’s forest. Once they arrive, the major and the bounty hunter find that the lodge’s owners are ominously missing. In their place is a second group of roughened, scheming travelers.
It’s clear from the get-go that we have fallen in with deeply uncivilized company. We’re in a war wrecked era where the inhabitants are prone to violent outbursts and aggressive mind sets. We can’t relax even for a moment, for each time we blink one character is lashing out at another. But I doubt you’ll mind that there’s no moments of calm. The constant bantering and bickering between these crazed, but hugely intriguing, individuals is wickedly entertaining and even openly comical at times. But the laughs don’t dispel the building sense that something very bad and bloody is going to happen. Despite being comprised of military officers and elected statesmen, the group is one of entirely twisted and unstable men (and one woman). We may be in the Western wilderness, but some of the characters would also be at home in a facility for the criminally insane. The sheer lunacy that the characters conduct themselves with should highly amuse horror fanatics.
In THE HATEFUL EIGHT, the ruthlessness of the characters and the eeriness of the storm raging outside combines with Tarantino’s over the top violence to produce a wonderfully wild ride. Even by Tarantino standards, the gore level has been cranked to the max, making the movie as jaw droppingly violent as the characters are crazy. But as blood drenched as it is, the film maintains a twistedly playful feel, largely provided by the smug, gleefully taunting Daisy Domergue. The film is an electrifyingly fresh mixture of vivid violence and outrageous laughs, portraying the era in a much grimier and more vicious light than we’re used to seeing it in. Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, the West may have finally become wild enough for horror fans to excitedly venture into.