Review: Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

Director: Jason Eisener

***

With a title like Hobo With A Shotgun, there’s little room for misinterpretation. Rutger Hauer is a hobo, and he has a shotgun. That’s the explanation out of the way; let’s get to the action!

OK, there’s a bit of a plot, but is plot ever a concern in the grindhouse genre? When the hobo (Hauer) arrives into Hope City on a freight train, he finds a city overrun by gangsters and anarchy. Violence is omnipresent, bloody and tolerated. The city is in the grip of Brian Downey’s mobster Drake and his sons Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith). The hobo then buys a shotgun with what little change he has, and starts doling out his own brand of justice with the help of a sympathetic hooker (Molly Dunsworth’s Abby). Being a grindhouse homage (the film is based on one of the fake trailers created for Rodriguez and Tarantino’s Grindhouse), everyone is dispatched with bloody abandon. Paedophilic Santas are shot to bits, limbs are smashed open and decapitations are spectator events. If this doesn’t float your boat, then it’s best not to mention the human piñata.

It’s difficult to overstate the bloodiness of Hobo With A Shotgun; men, women and children are caught in the firing line as the hobo’s actions bring the wrath of the mob down upon himself and the entire homeless community of Hope City. At this point, in come a pair of armour-clad misfits known as The Plague. They tear their way through a hospital, dispatching staff whilst the Hobo looks in at a room of newborns at a maternity ward. He gives them a speech warning against becoming like him, “a hobo with a shotgun!” At this point, the audience whoops and cheers as he turns to take on the armoured goons. Apart from lacking subtlety, Hobo With A Shotgun is not particularly clever. It riffs on the grindhouse genre without commenting on it. Director Jason Eisener and writer John Davies aren’t interested in anything other than replicating their favourite splatter-fests with gritty-but-colourful action and rudimentary dialogue. Hobo With A Shotgun is best for the late-night (and slightly tipsy) crowd who want their gore fix, and it delivers. Its best asset, and the only reason anyone other than gorehounds might like it, is Hauer. He knows what he’s saying is rubbish, so he chews the words up and spits them out in an angry drawl. His magnetic charm is the only thing that keeps Hobo With A Shotgun from being totally off the wall. Or wasn’t that the point of the film in the first place?

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