Score Reviews‎ > ‎

The Hateful Eight by Ennio Morricone (Review)

posted Jan 3, 2016, 11:23 AM by Koray Savas   [ updated Jan 3, 2016, 11:25 AM ]

Everyone should be familiar with Quentin Tarantino and his unique use of music in his films. The director does not like giving so much power over his movies to a composer, and instead opts to reuse classic scores as well as other songs and music in place of an original score. However, as of 2009's Inglourious Basterds, Tarantino has been trying to get Ennio Morricone to score his films. Scheduling conflicts prevented the collaboration then, as well as with 2012's Django Unchained, though Morricone did end up writing one song for the latter. For The Hateful Eight, scheduling nearly prevented the two filmmakers from collaborating again, but after meeting up and discussing the script, Morricone agreed to contribute as much as he possibly could. The result is about 40 minutes of original score in combination with unused music written for John Carpenter's The Thing.

This is Morricone's first western score in 40 years. Having said that, throw out all your preconceptions of what a Spaghetti western score should sound like. Morricone recognized that his tried-and-true style from the 60s would not fit Tarantino's story, so he focused on the suspense and paranoia inherent in the characters and plot. It is very reminiscent of The Thing in this way, thus why his unused music for Carpenter's film was chosen over other past scores, save for "Regan's Theme" from Exorcist II: The Heretic. The "Overture" opens the film, giving the audience a taste of mystery and ambiguity. The trickling strings and ominous brass set up the tone for everything to follow. From there the opening credits sequence ("L'Ultima Diligenza Di Red Rock") takes us along and dials that suspense up to 11. The contrabassoon here, in particular, paired with the steady percussion beat work together to create a terrific melodic line that suggests the horror and violence that will eventually follow in the film's final act. Morricone sustains this dread for nearly 11 minutes and not a word of dialogue has yet to be spoken in the film. Moreover, "Neve (Versione Integrale)" is a 12-minute opus in and of itself. Representing the blizzard on one end and the claustrophobia of the cabin on the other, this cue remains slow and steady throughout, with an undercurrent of minimalism that truly gets under your skin. It is from these two major pieces that the rest of the score is derived from. Varying excerpts and variations of these themes are utilized throughout the film to great effect, in addition to other small pieces. The truncated scoring process gives the score a repetitive flavor, but Morricone's masterful ability to sustain mono thematic ideas over lengthy periods of time only works in favor of the narrative.

The Hateful Eight is a Spaghetti western on the surface, yet a horror film at heart. Tarantino always wears his influences on his sleeve, and is finally able to secure an original score from idol Ennio Morricone. The score is a masterwork of suspense and drama that harkens back, not to the Leone scores that made his famous, but to the crime thrillers and horror films of decades past. The music's structure may test the patience of some, but the final result goes beyond the desired effect to create a truly memorable experience.