In my campaign review for The Hateful Eight I wrote:
Outside of that the campaign promises a violent movie that features some great characters working to either conceal or reveal a mystery that will touch all of those character’s agendas and motivations. We get the general idea of the film’s plot – or at least it’s easy to assume we get it – from the trailers but there’s lots more that’s hinted at being just below the surface of what’s on display. It’s easy to assume that we’ll be getting a standard Tarantino movie here but the director always has at least one or two surprises he pulls out that I’m guessing the campaign here doesn’t even hint at.
That surprise is a level of violence that’s only slightly hinted at in the campaign. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone passingly familiar with Tarantino but the movie itself is very, very violent. Not to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen the film yet, but it ends in a way that is pretty consistent with the director’s previous movies.
When I went into the theater I thought the same thing I usually do when starting a Tarantino movie: That I was going to be watching a drama, thriller or action movie. When I came out of the theater I remembered what I always remember after finishing a Tarantino movie, which is that the director actually makes comedies. Extremely violent comedies, but comedies. Instead of Will Ferrell driving a motorcycle through a wall, his jokes involve people’s heads being completely blown off as they come up from a root cellar.
There’s certainly some trimming that could be done to the script and film, but I disagree with the critics who argue that nothing happens for the first three quarters of the story. A lot happens in that time, all of which pays off in the last 45 minutes of the movie. It’s not about an inciting incident in each chapter of the movie, it’s about a slow build toward a massive payoff in the end.
In terms of the campaign, there are a few shots in the trailer that I don’t remember being in the finished movie. Overall, though, the marketing doesn’t really sell the extreme (and often shockingly hilarious) violence in the film in favor of selling Tarantino’s dialogue and characters. And unsurprisingly the emphasis on the 70mm presentation is completely lost on anyone who just wants to see the movie or who doesn’t live near one of the road show screening locations. That made for good industry press but for the average suburban moviegoer it’s inconsequential, though I’m sure some of the people in the theater I was in were wondering why the screen was even more oddly shaped – more specifically why the picture wasn’t filling the whole screen, even narrowed down – than usual.
So there’s nothing outright misleading in the campaign. Considering how the marketing is designed to primarily appeal to people who are already fans of the writer/director it’s hard to imagine anyone actually feeling mislead or lied to by the lack of violence in the trailers and such. Surprised, sure, but not tricked.