Review: Hobo With a Shotgun

Director: Jason Eisener
Release: March 25 2011 (Canada)
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth

The idea for Hobo with a shotgun was first seen in one of the fake trailers during Tarantino and Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” double feature after winning a contest to be included during screenings in Canada.

I don’t know if anyone ever expected it to be more than that, but here we are, about a year after given the go ahead to produce a full length version, Jason Eisener finally gets to deliver, and holy fuck, does he ever.

The film opens almost peacefully (almost hilariously so) with shots of the hobo (Hauer) riding the rails into town, but it soon becomes obvious that this is a desolate, grimy place filled with crime and corruption and “ruled” by the Drake and his two sons, Ivan and Slick.

Along the way he saves a prostitute (Molly Dunsworth) by the name of Abby, who is later able to reciprocate the favour and the two are sort of intertwined from there on in.

Eventually the hobo is forced to take action when, complete at his whits end in a pawn shop, he has to stop three armed robbers by grabbing a shotgun and plastering them to the walls. It all falls into place from there as he pretty much vows to clean up the filth on the streets.

What follows is pretty much complete carnage, all completely over the top and gory like you might expect, but a lot of it remains hilarious because it is so over the top, or the delivery of a certain line before the red stuff explodes all over the camera. If you aren’t laughing at some of these people dying, this movie probably isn’t for you.

Take, for instance, the part where the hobo spots a child molester dressed as santa and jams the shotgun into his face, he refers to the pervert as a “shit licking peodphile” in his gruff voice before pulling the trigger (and letting us see an awesome shot of the car window covered in blood from the opposite side).

It’s all very over the top and is pretty aware of itself as being a movie that takes pride in that. You can just tell.

Some might argue there are bits that push the limits on what some people might consider funny gore/death (think children on a school bus), and to me that’s not a negative. That’s ballsy and it’s great. The movie is about sick people doing sick things and someone trying to stop that. Why there are degrees of what is thought of as “tasteful death” and what isn’t has always been silly to me.

What’s also great about all this, is that all of this death and bloodshed doesn’t shy away from being shown full tilt, and it’s all done using conventional effects. You know, the stuff that used to be standard on horror films of the past. Makeup and prosthetic limbs and tons and tons of fake blood. There’s no awful CGI here and major props have to be given to these filmmakers for that, both for the fact that it feels very much in line with the “grindhouse” feel and also because, at least to me, it is far more convincing and hard to make it so. That takes a lot of work and skill.

The story escalates to the Drake calling in a group known as “The Plague”, these two huge, badass heavily armored and masked dudes who are basically bounty hunters to stop the Hobo, and I have to say, the scene where they first appear and start kicking ass is some of the best bits of film I’ve seen in a long while. It’s frantic and gory and wild. These guys wrap nooses around the necks of people in the hospital they are storming through and shoot grappling hooks into the ceiling to hang them alive while hacking at others with huge machetes and it’s pretty nuts to watch.

Honestly, I want to sit here and write up a description of every cool scene in the film, but that would take too long and would ruin it for anyone who still needs to see it (so, anyone who hasn’t). This film is quite simply a masterpiece of gory, shocking and over the top action and death. It’s funny and sad and brutal and pretty much out grindhouses every one of the grindhouse films released so far, all without using that overplayed effect of fake film grain/bad jump cuts/editing, and thank god for that, because after “machete” that stuff is so played out.

Rutger Hauer delivers an awesome performance. Many were surprised to see him cast in such a roll and “small” film, but it’s pretty clear that he’s totally into it and just having a great time, because man, he really nails every scene he’s in. The slurred hobo talk, the angry rants and all of it in between.

Watch this movie if you love random humor, over the top gore and hobos.

Jason Eisener is a director I will forever be keeping an eye on, because this guy “gets” it.

Arbitrary number rating that really doesn’t mean fuck all: 10/10

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