“Hobo with a Shotgun” somehow achieves at being one of the most tastefully executed tasteless films ever made. Itʼs excessively violent, remarkably crude, and irrationally ridiculous and that must have been top priority for Jason Eisner, Rutger Hauer, and the rest of the crew. For all intensive purposes they succeeded in their mission and made a perfect movie, but just because itʼs perfect doesnʼt mean that the majority of itʼs audience will not walk out in disgust and vomit in the nearest trash can.
So, whatʼs “Hobo with a Shotgun” about? The title pretty much describes it. A disheveled Hobo ,Rutger Hauer, hops off a train car looking for a new life in a town ridden with corrupt police, blood stained streets, and vindictive mobsters hellbent on degrading the world around them. The Hobo (heʼs billed as “Hobo” so Iʼm not sure if I should write him as “The Hobo” or just “Hobo”) looks to add some value to himself by purchasing a lawnmower and start a landscaping business. His dreams take a turn after experiencing the townʼs injustice and he ultimately decides to take matters into his own hands. He fulfills the films title and purchases a shotgun at a pawn shop. The rest of the film involves Rutger Hauer blowing away pedophiles, murderers, mobsters, and crooked cops without one shred of mercy.
Accompanying him throughout is a prostitute with a keen eye for morality named Abby, played subtly and sweetly by Molly Dunsworth. They form a mutual bond that grounds each other from going over the edge of insanity.
The antagonists of this film are as ridiculous as the imagination can produce. Brian Downey plays Drake, a controlling mob boss with his mind set on controlling the town with an iron fist. With the Hoboʼs knack for vigilance, Drake must step in and take back the town he believes he owns. Aiding Drake are his two narcissistic sons and two contract killers called “The Plague.” The Plague are two nameless murders that seemed to have stepped off the set of “The Road Warrior” and decided to kill people for money.
Itʼs been years since weʼve seen Rutger Hauer in a lead role (“Split Second?”), but he very much carries the film. He walks the line by portraying the Hobo with a child like innocence but also gives him a carnal ferocity. The Hobo himself is a Hobo for a good reason. Heʼs not a man just down on his luck. He can be endearing but heʼs not a mentally competent protagonist. That somehow adds to his charm.
As far as production value goes, “Hobo with a Shotgun” really shines. The entire film is saturated with all the colors of the rainbow and the photography is as gritty as a film entitled “Hobo with a Shotgun” should be. According to IMDB the film was produced for around 3 million which is fairly modest for the scope of the film. The gore comes in buckets and once the violence starts, it pretty much never stops. At one point, a school bus full of children goes up in flames. This film is not rated and thatʼs because there would be no way it could be anything under an NC-17. If they cut it down to an R- rating then it would dilute the purpose of the film. That in itself asks another question. What is the purpose of “Hobo with a Shotgun?”!
Most will say that this film is an homage to Trauma and other Grindhouse films of the past. I am going to declare that itʼs not a homage. It is a Grindhouse film. “Machete”, “Deathproof”, and “Drive Angry 3D” are homages to that area of film making. They go out of their way to be self aware and bow down to the films that came before them. “Hobo with a Shotgun” is different. It never winks at the camera. It takes itself a serious as possible with a ridiculous premise. Itʼs very aware to what it is but doesnʼt try to push the envelope, it just does so naturally. “Hobo with a Shotgun” is not a homage to anything, but another installment of the genre. Itʼs a film to be homaged and if your a fan of the genre you will not be disappointed.