Hobo with a Shotgun

Director: Jason Eisener
Writer: John Davies
Year: 2011
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey

★★☆☆☆

If nothing else, Hobo with a Shotgun delivers what it promises, and delivers it by the bucket load. Like last year’s Machete, it is based on a trailer produced for the Tarantino/Rodriguez homage Grindhouse. In comparison, however, Machete is grindhouse for the masses.

The look of the film grabs you immediately, everything is washed over with an exaggerated garish Technicolor. Then, revelling in its own theatricality, it dives straight into an obscenely over-the-top execution in which the bad guys are introduced, Drake (Brian Downey) and his preppy but psychotic sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (“Introducing” Nick Bateman). A woman dances in a shower of blood spurting from the victim’s neck, she licks it seductively from her fingers. It sets the tone.

There is plenty of gore on show, and it is well done. It’s excessive but we expect nothing else. Jason Eisener pulls out all the stops. There are too many examples to list, but there is one fabulous sequence which involves someone being stabbed with the jagged bone from a cut-off forearm. Other positives include a great eighties-style soundtrack, continuity issues galore and several nods to old-school horror flicks, notably Peter Jackson’s Braindead towards the end.

Rutger Hauer stars as the Hobo, who in true B-movie style has to choose between a life of probably-suicidal vigilante crime-fighting or purchasing a lawnmower (both of which incidentally cost $49.99). Hauer is great in his role, striking the perfect balance between incoherence and menace – in this context, far more of the former than the latter. The obligatory hooker is played by Molly Dunsworth, who also does exactly what the film requires of her.

The film is good fun, but never quite enough fun to justify not giving the audience anything more coherent. Disappointingly, there are few great lines, and the dialogue is fairly weak, even bearing in mind its tongue-in-cheek intention. I am undecided on The Plague (The Plague are some kind of medievally-clad demons, who are apparently impossible to kill unless you have a lawnmower handy). There are memorable moments, such as when the Hobo delivers a soliloquy to screaming infants in a hospital, but for the most part it is forgettable.

Hobo with a Shotgun revels in its excess. It is a more sincere attempt than Machete to create a homage to grindhouse cinema, but is perhaps less successful for it. Homages are difficult to do well, because they aren’t trying to do anything except recreate. They have nothing really to say. The great grindhouse films did, however crudely they put it.

Rob Dickie

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