Every once in a while something lives up to the hype. It’s easy to get jaded as a movie fan. After all we see so many good concepts come down the pike that we know, just know can’t live up to the potential of their trailers, posters, and concepts. Then every once in a while something does. Filthier than Machete, bloodier than your average Rob Zombie film, and more fucked up than the collected works of Frank Henenlotter Hobo With A Shotgun is the real deal.
It’s as if every disreputable low rent eighties action movie went to an orgy hosted by Frank Miller and Hobo With A Shotgun is the product of their hate fucking. John Carpenter took the child home to raise it. And the little bastard child grew up mean.
Hobo With A Shotgun follows the titular Hobo played by Rutger Hauer. He comes to Scum Town, a pre apocalyptic (Think Mad Max not The Road Warrior) Canadian city run by Drake a powerful crime lord/sociopath and his sons who offer not one but two devastatingly ruthless Tom Cruise impersonations.. (One of the most unexpectedly upsetting elements of the film is its Canadianess. I mean it’s a foregone conclusion that America will one day slide into a apocalyptic hell on Earth. But we kind of figured that you guys had it together.) After spending a few days in Drake’s hell hole of a city and befriending a teenage prostitute The Hobo decides he has had enough. He gets himself a shotgun and starts blowing holes in the city’s lowlifes, of which there are plenty to choose from.
Rutger Hauer stars as the Hobo. Hauer even after his brief revival via Sin City and Batman Begins remains a sadly underutilized actor. He gets to show his skills here, playing the role in a way that gives it a surprising amount of depth. Though the Hobo is the hero there’s no getting around the fact that he’s genuinely unhinged. There’s a moment where the Hobo’s teenage protégé allows him to sleep in her bed, and as he nods off he starts on this long rambling monologue about bears and how they can tear off peoples faces. Even though we know The Hobo is a good guy that’s still a half crazed homeless person lying in your bed talking about ripping off people’s faces. That’s going to be an uncomfortable moment no matter how you try and shake it. The fact that the movie doesn’t shy away from that, and the fact that Hauer is able to add such a great deal of sadness to what is essentially a gore cartoon, is what keeps the movie from being a one trick pony.
Not that that one trick is any small thing. Director Jason Eisener orchestrates non stop mayhem from the open frame to the closing one. The film is obviously one of limited means, but there’s a genuine demented creativity here that makes up for the lack of budget. Watch The Plague rampage and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s a tough time for independent filmmakers right now. Even if you do somehow will your film into existence that’s no guarantee you’ll get a second one off the ground. Just ask the guys who made Behind The Mask, or The Signal. I hope Eisener bucks that trend. His is a vision too demented to lose.
The film does have a few flaws. Some of the digital cinematography is sub par, with blown out backgrounds and over lit exteriors. Here’s hoping that next time out Eisener can afford a cinematographer with decent command of the F-Stop. The structure of the script is also set up so that The Hobo spends a bit too much of the end of the film sidelined. It’s cool in a sort of V For Vendetta way, but still you can’t help but wish that Hauer got to participate in a bit more of the anarchy that he unleashed.
Still these are really minor problems when compared to the whole. Hobo With A Shotgun exists and the world of exploitation cinema is all the better for it