Hobo With A Shotgun (Review)

Hauer's emotional performance infuses Hobo with a geniune sense of pathos

After winning a promotional contest to make a fake trailer that was screened preceding the Tarantino/Rodriguez double-feature Grindhouse, Jason Eisener and his collaborators were given a chance to turn their gory work of art into a full-length feature. This film (like the trailer that inspired it) is a revenge-thriller entitled Hobo With A Shotgun, and it stands as one of the best examples of a modern homage/parody of ’70s exploitation films, not to mention one of the most irresistibly fun times I’ve had at a theatre since last year’s Piranha 3D.

Legendary actor Rutger Hauer lights up the screen as a lonely hobo who is sick of watching the innocent suffer while the guilty go unpunished. Sacrificing his dreams of starting up a lawn-mowing business, he spends his life savings on a shotgun and begins to hand out his own brand of pump-action justice, working his way through the scumbags of the town up to the local crimelord “The Drake” and his two sadistic sons Ivan and Slick (who happen to be massive douches). Hauer delivers a surprisingly captivating performance, stealing every scene he’s in and offering several touching monologues which showcase his immense talent as a seasoned thespian. The film’s second lead (a prostitute named Abby, played by Molly Dunsworth) is also very effective, sharing some fantastic chemistry with Hauer and eventually holding her own as a heroic figure when the film forces her into the spotlight. Some familiar Canadian faces appear, including George Strombolopolous and Robb Wells (Ricky from Trailer Park Boys).

But aside from the wonderful Rutger Hauer, what makes Hobo such a delight is the fact that the filmmakers clearly know what exploitation cinema is all about, and understand how to perfectly walk that fine line between homage and parody. The visual style uses hyper-saturated colours and several full colour washes, while the musical score is a combination of western operatics and synth riffs reminiscent of 70s/80s horror films. There is also an abundance of gore and over-the-top sadistic violence, which can be shocking at times but thankfully never feels contrived thanks to Eisener’s playful creativity and tight direction. Several scenes toy with viewer expectations as well, allowing for some truly fantastic shock moments that will stick with you after the credits roll.

All things considered, Eisener has really knocked it out of the park here with his debut feature, offering fans of Grindhouse cinema something new to chew on while respectfully honouring the way that low-budget films like this used to be made.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011, Canada, 86 min).  Directed by: Jason Eisener.  Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman.

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~ by Mark D'Amico on June 1, 2011.

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