Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Hobo With A Shotgun

Title: Hobo With A Shotgun
Director: Jason Eisener
Released: 2011
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, Pasha Ebrahimi, Jeremy Akerman, Peter Simas

Plot: A nameless Hobo (Hauer) arrives in Hope Town via a freight train box car with plans of buying a lawnmower and to start a new life for himself. However when he soon discovers that Hope Town has long since decended into lawless chaos, with the locals now referring to it as “Scum Town” while being ruled by the ruthless crime lord “The Drake” (Downey). Now arming himself with a pump action shotgun the Hobo sets out to dish out his own brand of vigilante justice.

Review: It’s true I might be alittle behind the bandwagon for this one, seeing how it was greeted with much excitement upon its release as it marked the start of the second wave of Neo-grindhouse movies being released in the wake of “Grindhouse”, a film I’ve already commented on numerous times previously due to its distribution being screwed up by the Weinstein’s figuring that British audiences (and pretty much everywhere outside of the states) were too dumb to get the format and split it into its individual films, rather than give us the true experience. Still it the legacy of the film and the Neo-Grindhouse genre it kick startednnot only gave us the trailer which spawned “Machette” aswell as “Machette Kills”, but also gave the world the first glimpse of this film as it appeared as one of the fake trailers on some prints of “Grindhouse”.

Right from the start director Eisener who makes his feature directorial debut here clearly likes to wear his influences on his sleeve, which in this case would seem to be largely gained from the OTT style of Troma Studios while mixing it up with the splatter and social satire style of Paul Verhoeven, all of which is clear from the opening scenes, which includes a barbwire decapitation and fountains of blood while the crime ridden streets of the streets of scum town seem to have been transplanted from Verhoeven’s classic “Robocop”. Still even the briefest of looks at the trailer alone highlights that like his inspirations, Eisener is not the sort of director who does anything subtly making the Neo-Grindhouse genre the perfect playground for his style, especially as its audience come expecting violence and splatter and here Eisener delivers both in spades.

Still there is thankfully a brain behind the splatter (if a delightfully sleazy one) as while he has certainly crafted one of the more splatter heavy films of recent years, Eisener still bothers to craft a half decent tale before getting distracted with unleashing carnage. On the downside his approaches to the material is with so excitable and frenzied, it can feel at times like you’re watching the product of a kid with ADD while on a sugar binge. At the same time he frequently stumbles when faced with the slower paced sequences as seen during the more tender moments between the hobo and aspiring school teacher turned prostitute Abby (Dunsworth) who despite seemingly having nothing in common, the Hobo recognises her innocence despite the world around them which continually threatens to corrupt her innocence.

Unsurprisingly the film is far from the deepest of viewing experiences with Eisener having a good eye for characterisation as he crafts some truly memorable characters, who are truly brought to life here with some great casting choices, with Hauer as the nameless hobo full of pure grit and snarl while Downey makes a perfect counter as the ruthless and sadistic Drake, whose love of showmanship and theatrics makes him the perfect centre piece in the collection of villainy and scum that Eisener has filled the streets of Scum town with. Oh and what a collection of scumbags it is, for like “The Toxic Crusader” these streets lined with the likes of the paedophile Santa and the director making bum fights style movies, all of which soon find themselves soon enough on the business end of the hobo’s shotgun as he sets about cleaning up the town and with such a black and white devide behind good and evil, there is no real moral questions raised regarding the hobos methods. Even more so when The Drake responds to the Hobo’s actions by carring out a mass hobo genocide in one of the films splatter centrepieces. Sadly he does miss a trick by underusing “The Plague” a pair of hired gun and full blown psycho’s hired by The Drake, who also dress like the medieval version of Daft Punk. However they are only introduced in the final quarter, leaving kind of disappointed that they are not used more, especially when they are such a unique and fun creation and generally hoping that Eisener finds some way of reusing them.

While most of the film is generally a care free exploitation throw back with Eisener generally flipping the bird to the censors and mainstream Hollywood, there are however a few moments were I felt the film perhaps overstepped the mark perhaps slightly too much and these were in the few scenes which saw children being openly threatened, while a school bus of kids being incinerated by a flame thrower to the strains of Disco Inferno just comes off as tasteless, even if it does makes a suitable setup for the death of one character whose soul we seeing being metaphorically dragged to hell in the same burning school bus.

As always the case with any film junkie who uses their expansive film knowledge in their film making the need to draw comparisons between them and Tarantino seems almost inevitable like Adam Green, but here Eisener seems only concerned with using the films which influenced this film as a reference point for his shooting style especially as he shoots the film in saturated and shifted colours rather than trying to reimagine scenes from the films he draws inspiration from. The soundtrack itself is also a throwback while also baffling including Lisa Lougheed’s “Run With Us” which let’s not forget was memorably also used on the 80’s childhood favourite “The Racoons” yet surprisingly it works rather well here.

A frequently grimy and hyperactive debut feature, but a noteworthy addition to the Neo-grindhouse genre, while were Eisener will go next is till unclear but providing he can dial back his over brimming enthusiasm slightly he could certainly be an interesting director to follow, especially if this debut is anything to go off.


  1. Nice review Elwood. Totally over-the-top and gritty to the point of where it's near-parody. However, it's pretty awesome once Rutger Hauer grabs that shotgun and begins to blow holes through anybody who stands in his way.

    1. It's quite a restrained build up to that first round of shotgun justice and I love the look on his face as he is being forced to chew glass, knowing that the bum fight director and the other scumbags will soon be getting it.


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