Friday, 5 August 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Rutger Hauer gives it both barrels

Image: Momentum Pictures

Hobo with a Shotgun is the product of a competition to create a fake trailer for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. Four years later, the finished feature-length product is finally here.

A nameless hobo (Hauer) jumps off a train and lands in Scum City. All he wants is to save enough money for a lawnmower, but when he’s faced with the savage brutality and lawlessness of the town, he takes the law, and a shotgun, into his own hands. 

You know what you’re getting with a film like this. It’s called Hobo with a Shotgun, for crying out loud. It’s quite a pleasant suprise to report that it’s quite comfortably a better film than Rodriguez’s trailer expansion Machete. Jason Eisener and his writers are determined to stay on message: a gory, sleazy throwback that has a sense of humour (a newspaper headline reads “Hobo stops begging, demands change”). There’s also the obligatory lurid colour scheme, buckets of gore, and lots of nudity. What did you expect?

There are some early stumbles as the filmmakers struggle to establish a tone but committed performances from the cast of unknowns and Eisener’s obvious skill with the camera make sure that Hobo is an entertaining throwback. This town’s so bad that the police are as bad as the crooks, and no one bats an eye as a cackling Santa Claus drives through the streets with a screaming child in the back of his car. Think that’s offensive? One of the bad guys burns a school bus full of kids with a flame thrower. 

The actors are all on the same page. Molly Dunsworth gives it her all as prostitute with a heart of gold Abby, and Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, and Nick Bateman are (mostly) enjoyably psychotic villains. But the film belongs to Hauer. The Blade Runner star’s performance is earnest, angry, nuanced, and a welcome reminder of how talented he is. While he doesn’t quite wink at the camera, he’s clearly aware of what sort of film he’s in but gives his best regardless.

Of course it’s silly, trashy, crass, offensive, and incredibly gory. But the filmmakers know that, and as you know that going in, it’s surprisingly enjoyable.

Verdict: We don’t know whether we even need to warn you that it’s not for everyone, but after some early wobbles, Eisener and Hauer deliver a funny, gory homage to violent B-movies.  That having been said, you’ll probably be a bit tired of it by the end.

3/5

JH

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