Posted June 10, 2011 by David Watson in Films
 
 

Hobo With A Shotgun


It’s the sort of title for a film that, whatever your taste in cinema, will warrant a heavy response. Severe distaste, high fives, intent curiosity; love or hate it, Hobo with a Shotgun gets a person thinking.

It’s the sort of title for a film that, whatever your taste in cinema, will warrant a heavy response. Severe distaste, high fives, intent curiosity; love or hate it, Hobo with a Shotgun gets a person thinking.

Follow this initial reaction with the fact that this dirty gem of a concept appeared in primitive trailer form as part of the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse double bill (which also spawned Machete) and you get an idea of what’s to come. The low-budget, blood-laden teaser promises gore galore, mindless slaughter and the sort of shocking scenes that would really hit home if they weren’t so utterly ridiculous.

With the revamped grindhouse genre still in its infancy and Rodriguez’s blessing, a larger budget and B-movie superstar Rutger Hauer filling the Hobo’s weathered boots, this monster of a feature sets forth to entertain.

Hopping off a freight train with a weary soul, our homeless hero hits town with no ambitions other than to make some cash. But instead he finds himself confronted by every definition of corruption; gang violence, drug abuse and prostitution, all controlled by a twisted mob family, boasting names like Slick and Drake, who rule the town with an iron fist.

Once a believer in the American Dream and the idea that a lawnmower brings the promise of a better life, Hobo is forced to take up the trigger and, with the help of feisty whore Abby (Molly Dunsworth), seeks the blood-soaked path to redemption.

If this were a product of ‘70s grindhouse this would be a tale of revenge, the rage-fuelled hero visiting justice upon his tormentors, paying them back for the violence and cruelty he’s suffered. But Hobo with a Shotgun’s hero just seems a bit tired, worn down by too much violence and oddly and inexplicably exempt from the suburban underworld.

It could be a thing of glory. But what you’re faced with instead is illogical, even by the sort of chaos expected by these sorts of films. The tongue-in-cheek moments fall short and almost pass off as sentiment, with virtually indecipherable monologues from Hauer about bears and justice interspersed with respectful glances from Dunsworth’s prozzy.

The baddies are woefully underplayed and although are faintly annoying don’t warrant the sort of fate that is awaiting them, earning what should be a quiet cull instead of a fully-fledged onslaught. The production values are cheap and not in an effective way; every now and then it’s as if the filmmakers remembered they were supposed to be making a grindhouse movie and slapped some grain onto the celluloid.

There are some nice touches; Abby taking on the townspeople, the cursing hospital staff that try and save her life. Rodriguez was right in thinking that this was a concept that showed a lot of promise. But with the room to develop the filmmakers have instead stretched their story too thinly both in subject and in time. The revenge drama will never lose the entertainment factor but you need to root for the hero and here our hobo seems to have nothing in his sights but retirement. The characters lack depth, the plot is muddled and the film is trying so hard to shock that it feels flamboyant and silly; even a bus full of school children being burnt alive fails to raise an eyebrow.

Hobo with a Shotgun will undeniably bring in the punters. With promises of boobs and blood the gore porn fanatics will come a-queuing, as will those curious to see how a film with such a brash title can be granted a nationwide release. But there’s little here for any but a cult audience; the average viewer will leave the cinema scratching their head, wondering what the film is trying to achieve.

With the influences of this motion picture still lying in the racks of ‘70s and ‘80s VHS tapes lining the convenience stores of America, it’s not hard to understand why the motives of Hobo are clouded by an idea that it’s trying to do too much at once.


David Watson

 
David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com