Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hobo With a Shotgun Gets Spare Change Quicker

Hobo With a Shotgun

If the classic television show, The Littlest Hobo, and Jason Eisener’s debut feature, Hobo With a Shotgun, are any indication, Canada is filled with helpful Hobos. Granted, Eisener’s film takes place in the fictional Scumtown, yet the look and feel of the film is distinctly Canadian circa 1970s.

Based on the fake trailer of the same name that appeared prior to the Canadian screening of the Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature, Hobo with a Shotgun tells the story of a Hobo (Rutger Hauer) who happens upon a town where corruption is running rampant. Ruled by the ruthless Drake(Brian Downey), who revels in the theatre of violence that he creates, and his two sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), Scumtown is a place where drug dealers, pedophiles, and petty thieves rule the streets. Similar to the decent folks in Scumtown, Hobo tries to ignore the deteriorating town to focus on his goal of saving up enough money to buy a lawnmower. Unfortunately, Hobo can only keep out of trouble for so long. With a shotgun in his hand and a local prostitute, Abby (Molly Dunsworth), as his only ally, Hobo tries to clean up Scumtown one bullet at a time.

Hobo With a Shotgun is a film that wears its love for the grindhouse genre on its sleeve. In many ways the film feels like a more authentic exploitation film than Machete. One of the flaws with Machete was that the last half of the film felt more Hollywood spoof than it did a true grindhouse film. Hobo with a Shotgun, on the other hand, remains consistent throughout. Eisener revels in the over-the-top violence just as much as his villains do. He not only sets the tone early by featuring a decapitation in the first ten minutes of the film, but also emphasizes the point by having a bikini clad woman rubbing the spouting blood over her body. Despite the excessive violence, Eisener ensure that it is all relevant to the film. The villains are so evil that, in a slightly twisted way, the audience fields gratified when Hobo starts delivering his own unrelenting brand of justice.

Eisener’s film not only embraces the gory violence of the genre, but the absurd humour as well. From the idea of a Hobo dreaming of starting his own lawnmower business, despite not having a home to store it or a car to transport it, to humans being used as piñatas, there are many wonderfully absurd gags in the film. One of the best gags involves the demonic bounty hunters, known as The Plague, who happen to have a giant octopus in their lair. The funny thing is that the other characters act as if this is just a regular day at The Plague household.

The acting in the film ranges from decent to intentionally bad, which is to be expected from this type of film. Rutger Hauer does a good job of conveying that Hobo is a man who may not be quite right in the head but has good heart nonetheless. He also really elevates the other cast members who share screen time with him. If you do not enjoy the grindhouse genre, than you probably will not find Hobo With a Shotgun entertaining at all. If you happen to be a fan of the genre, and can handle the over-the-top violence, than Hobo With a Shotgun is worth checking out. It is a good modern day example of what makes exploitation films so much fun.


  1. This looks pretty awesome, in a sick kind of way though.
    I'll still be seeing it as soon as possible, although I doubt it will get a wide release where I live.

    Excellent review CS

  2. @Jack – The film is an acquired taste for sure. Some of the folks I saw the film with were not as fond of it as I was. I know the film opens in the States in a few weeks, but not sure about the global distribution. Chances are most will probably catch it on DVD.

  3. If you look at the 0:40 mark of the Littlest Hobo opening, he's carrying a gun! Crossover sequel, perhaps?

  4. Not for me I am afraid. I don't think I could handle the gore. Not these days. I am a softie in my old age!

    It looks good and your review makes me want to see it, but watching the trailer turned me right off!

    Ah well I will stick to kids films LOL


  5. @Andrew – I had noticed the gun in the Littlest Hobo opening as well, never picked up on that when I was younger.

    @Custard – Extreme violence in cinema is not for everyone. Heck, there are many films that are just too much even for me.


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