Sydney Film Festival – Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Hobo with a Shotgun, 2011.

Directed by Jason Eisener.
Starring Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi, Brian Downey, Molly Dunsworth and Rob Wells.


SYNOPSIS:

Hobo (Rutger Hauer) comes into Hope ‘Scum’ Town on a freight train and after being disgusted by the Drake family and their murderous torture games, he decides to enact some vigilante justice with … you guessed it – a SHOTGUN!


I’ll start this review by saying that I did watch this film at 9am so I may not have been as keen for violence…scratch that, exceptionally gratuitous and violence that trivialises brutally in a way that is disconcerting … so early in the morning.

Hobo with a Shotgun began like Machete, as a trailer between the Quentin Tarantino /Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse features and due to the fan demand for a full-length feature this film was produced.

The film begins with the titular Hobo (Rutger Hauer) entering ‘Hope [Scum] Town’ which is essentially a cesspool of poverty, murder, police corruption, prostitution and exploitation. Hobo’s first day in ‘Scum Town’ he bears witness to a public murder show where the town’s evil boss character Drake (Brian Downey) and his sons Ivan (Nick Batemen) and Slick (Gregory Smith)- stick Drake’s brother into a man-hole, stick a barb-wired noose attached to the back of a car around his neck drive away to decapitate him; and a female follower of Drake bathes in his blood. As I said – probably not ideal morning viewing.

Eisener’s colour palette in Hobo is striking. The primary colours are emphasised so that the blood, flames and chill feels like they burst out of the screen. Eisener also uses all the stylised credits to affect your nostalgia for films in this genre.

In this kind of film you’re never sure whether actors are acting badly intentionally or they’re bad actors – but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they did what director Eisener’s vision set them out to achieve. Rutger Hauer has got a great grizzled and weathered face that makes him compelling to watch even when he’s delivering the intentionally corny dialogue. Hauer’s lined face also suited to the vigilante justice because the rage seems to drip from his expression – in my opinion he’s an actor that good to watch in anything. Drake was the corny, street entertainment version of Killian (Richard Dawson) from The Running Man; Slick was really, really bad and a poor man’s Joker (The Dark Knight) imitation at his meanest; and Ivan (also bad) was a poor man’s crazy Stifler (American Pie) meets Fredo (The Godfather).

I fully appreciate that this film is meant to be intentionally ‘bad’ because it is paying homage to a 70s exploitation genre, but I think that what the trailer brought in a snappy, concise and fun looking snippet – when padded out into a full length feature feels like spreading one knife of butter over an entire loaf of bread. There are brief glimpses of tongue in cheek humour toward the genre that standout but the mix for me was 20% fantastic, homage and visual flair for the trashy genre and 80% real garbage.

Maybe a guilty pleasure with an appreciative audience but not one that I’d recommend, stick with the markedly better Grindhouse films.

Blake Howard is a writer/site director/podcaster at the castleco-op.com.

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