Movie title and complete description of a drool-inducing premise for b-movie fans, Hobo With A Shotgun is yet another film to come along thanks, in no small part, to Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and their twisted Grindhouse creation. We can be thankful that it’s just as enjoyable as Machete was, though in a slightly different vein.
Rutger Hauer is the titular hobo who arrives in a town that’s completely overrun by crime, corruption and abuse. It feels kinda like Tromaville without any of the humour. Hauer gets on the wrong side of the big baddies by protecting a young woman (Abby, played by Molly Dunsworth) who has resorted to prostitution to get by. He’s soon given a beating and left to bleed in the streets but, with a little help from Abby, gets back on his feet and ends up shopping in a pawn shop, where he finally lays his hands on the shotgun viewers have been eagerly waiting for. It’s time to clean up the streets, one shell at a time.
Hobo With A Shotgun starts off fairly over the top and mean and stays that way right up until the end credits. There are plenty of moments showing that mean streak: bodies have sharp things inserted into soft areas, heads are popped off with the help of a barbed wire noose, children are burned to death, a paedophile in a Santa suit drives off with a child in the back of his car, prostitutes are beaten, drug addicts are broken and nobody really seems to avoid at least some small helping of pain. It’s this onslaught of craziness and violence that both bumps the movie up to the level of the many films it’s trying to emulate and also, paradoxically, keeps it from being the near-perfect modern grindhouse flick that it could have been. The unrelenting nastiness accumulates in a way that keeps producing as many chuckles as it does winces.
The script (written by John Davies, based on a story by himself and Rob Cotterill and director Jason Eisener), with some great lines being spat out by our grizzled hero, is another facet that works both for and against the film – it’s wonderfully quotable in places and yet seems just a little too knowing in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink way.
Hauer is superb in the lead role, and reminds you that he’s actually usually this good in anything he ever does, and Molly Dunsworth is an appealing friend/sidekick to his character. Brian Downey, Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman are a bit too maniacal as the main baddies but they certainly leave an impression and allow audiences to easily wish for their painful demise.
Eisener shows real talent throughout, not just in the way he emulates that grindhouse feel but also in the few moments of genuine style and spookiness. The appearance of The Plague (two formidable characters who work well together) is impressive, as is a moment with a character about to be transported to hell, and there is some good atmosphere created in the rare scenes not dwelling on extreme violence and bloodshed.
So, I’d have to say that Hobo With A Shotgun is almost as great as its title would suggest and provides yet another superb role for Rutger Hauer, a fine actor that I have always been a fan of. Fans of this kind of film should see it ASAP.
Hobo With A Shotgun is receiving a limited cinema release, in some areas, here in the UK on Friday 15th July before a DVD/Blu-ray release on the 1st August. It is also available on import disc for the impatient.
DIRECTOR: JASON EISENER
STARS: RUTGER HAUER, MOLLY DUNSWORTH, BRIAN DOWNEY, GREGORY SMITH, NICK BATEMAN
RUNTIME: 86 MINS APPROX