Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A hobo with a dream and a heart rolls into town and is exposed to how vile and corrupted is is. Pushed to his limit, he decides to take matters into his own hands and delivers some gory vigilante justice. If that sounds like a good time to you then god damn is it ever.
Based on the SXSW award-winning Grindhouse trailer, Hobo With A Shotgun is directed by John Davies and is exactly what’s stated. It’s a pissed off hobo(Rutger Hauer)getting some revenge on the scum of Hope Town(called Fuck Town or Scum Town). Hobo rides into town and looks to get his life together. Right away he finds out exactly why the town is referred to as Scum Town. We’re introduced to Drake and his two sons Slick and Ivan as they show a neighborhood exactly why they’re in charge. It’s extremely bloody and equally as hilarious and awesome. A little while later Hobo saves and befriend a hooker with, you guessed it, a heart of gold. Abby (Molly Dunsworth)gives him a place. While falling asleep he tells her a story about bears and how they are kind animals left on their own, deadly once you get close, and vicious killers once they get the taste of blood. This story drives the rest of the film, with Hobo being the bear. Without spoiling much Hobo breaks gets his hands on a shotgun and goes crazy killing the scum of Scum Town. This pisses Drake who sends his sons after him and puts a bounty the homeless making all hell breaks loose.
This is Hobo With A Shotgun really takes off. Once he gets the shotgun it’s wall to wall violence. Heads aren’t simply blown off, they’re destroyed. Human organs are everywhere. Limbs are severed. Flamethrowers are fair game. Man, woman, or child isn’t safe. It’s in your face violence and gore at its best.
While a lot of this movie is over the top, Hauer plays it very seriously giving a nice balance. He inhabits the bear metaphor that he talks about in the movie starting off quiet peaceful turned deadly. Through all of this he remains a sweet fatherly figure to Abby. Abby’s your typical hooker with a heart that doesn’t get to really shine until the last 20 minutes or so. Dunsworth does a fine job as Abby, but doesn’t stand out amongst the rest of the cast. Blake and his two sons are excessively sadistic, cruel, and just plain insane. They break bones, kill, and torture with a smile and a laugh. While the sons can get a bit too outrageous and cheesy at times, Drake(Brian Downey) steals the movie as the craziest of them all. He like a psychotic a game show host who’s killings are the game, and who uses the citizens as his audience. You can see in everything he does just how much he loves to play games and control the audience. Movies usually have you hate the bad guy and cheer for his demise. But when watching Hobo all I wanted was more. Drake is just so much fun to watch.
Hobo With A Shotgun was shot in Eisner’s home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia its suburbs. A place I call home. Watching, I looked for places I knew. While some are obvious, Eisner does a great job of transforming the city to very much feel like its own place and live up to the name of Scum City. Graffiti, trash, and grime cover everything. There’s no “pretty” people. Even your average citizens are in drab colors and look unshaven and unshowered. After a little while I found myself more a part of Scum City and less looking for a part of my own.
Hobo isn’t without its flaws. Like I mentioned above the two sons tend to get a little too campy at times and Molly Dunsworth is unremarkable as Abby. But the flaws are small and easy to overlook once you get into the movie. The flaws even sometimes make the film even better by adding to the grindhouse feel that the movie aims for.
Hobo With A Shotgun is a movie that is destined to become a cult classic. It’s easy to imagine midnight screenings with people yelling along to one liners, cheering during all the violence, and just having a great time. If this movie is showing anywhere near you I highly suggest going to see it. It’s one of the best times you’re bound to have.
**** (out of 5)