You pretty much know what you're in for when you go to see a film called Hobo With A Shotgun
Not only because it's all right there in the title, but because a film
like that tends to skew towards a well-informed audience. So aside from
the adventurous movie-goer, I don't see the title inspiring too many
random walk-ins. And yet- as we filed into the press screening, an
elderly woman inquired as to what we were about to see. "Hobo With A
Shotgun," someone in line told her. Her response? "Oh, that sounds
nice." So you never know.
has been rummaging through the garbage here at ScreenAnarchy
for over a year now, so awareness should be high. For those living under
an internet rock, the firearm enthused transient of the film's title is
played by none other than veteran actor Rutger Hauer. He rides the
rails into a quaint little hamlet called Scum Town, where he hopes to
make a new life for himself, despite the fact that the place is called
Scum Town. Almost immediately he runs afoul of criminal overlord, The
Drake, and his chuckle-headed sons, Slick and Ivan. The Drake is a
demented version of Wayne Newton with a penchant for violence. His sons
are part Risky Business
era Tom Cruise, part mustacheless Freddy Mercury, and all stupid.
Rutger settles in and tries to lay low. He dreams of purchasing a
pawnshop lawnmower and starting a landscaping business to literally
"clean up" Scum Town. He meets a lovely young prostitute named Abby with
a dream of her own- that of being a school teacher. But Scum Town isn't
a place where dreams come true, not with The Drake and his boys
terrorizing the good citizens. So Rutger does what any self-respecting
hobo would do- forgo the lawnmower and buy a fucking shotgun!
will no doubt please its target audience of exploitation
aficionados, as can be attested by the forceful guffaws of the viewer
behind me. But not everyone at the screening was a fanboy, and his
attempts to manufacture an atmosphere of collective experience was more
distracting than anything. Personally, I found the film to be a little
uneven. It hovers back and forth between "it's so bad it's good" and
moments that are just plain bad. It is a well-made homage to poorly-made
films that is on the whole very successful, but once in a while misses
the mark, thereby more closely emulating the quality of its influence.
The whole experience is very meta.
Then there are moments that transcend whatever else the film is
trying to achieve. The "Bear" conversation between The Hobo and Abby is a
little piece of brilliance that is part Quentin Tarantino, part Werner
Herzog. This is thanks mostly to Hauer, who to his credit plays it
completely straight. His performance not only gives the film its
emotional center, it elevates it above your standard low budget schlock
fest. It is a casting coup.
Everyone else is appropriately over the top, as is the action. One
scene involving a flamethrower and a school bus full of children is
particularly inspired. Then there's The Plague- a medieval duo straight
out of Romero's Knightriders
who have a pet octopus and are
responsible for the deaths of everyone from Jesus to Abraham Lincoln.
Still not sure what to make of that one.
All in all, Hobo
is good, clean, gory fun. Not everything
Eisner throws against the wall sticks, but luckily it's mostly entrails,
so at least they slide down and go splat. It isn't as original as his
killer Christmas tree short, Treevenge
, but still manages to fill
out its feature length runtime like a tight dress. The film has come a
long way from its humble beginnings as a fake trailer for the movie Grindhouse
and is proof that independent filmmaking is still alive and kicking
(and decapitating people.) I hope adventurous old ladies everywhere
wander in to see it.
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