Review: Hobo With a Shotgun

By Paul Hunter

Look out Hope Town, there's a new Hobo on the streets and he's out to seek justice one shell at a time. To call Hobo With a Shotgun a gorefest would be like calling Evil Dead a Sunday picnic. Yet beneath the gratuitous violence there's a moving story about corruption and exploitation that makes this film much more than just another blood-soaked grindhouse flick.

The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-born Director Jason Eisener was given a chance of lifetime with Hobo after his faux trailer was picked by Quentin Tarintino and Robert Rodriguez as the winner of their Grindhouse trailer competition. The original trailer (see on YouTube here) quickly became a cult phenomenon that garnered hundreds of thousands of fan views and was eventually picked up by Alliance Films for nation-wide release in Canada.

From two minute trailer to an full-on 86 minute feature length film, Hobo With a Shotgun is one of those films that has cult status potential much like The Warriors achieved back in the early 80's. The movie stars horror film legend Rutger Hauer (The Hitcher, Blade Runner) as the eponymous hobo vigilante who takes a train to Hope Town (with has spray paint over the city sign reading Scum Town) to fulfill his dream of buying a lawnmower to open up his own landscaping business. What he finds is a town full of the worst corruption imaginable, crime is rampant, sexual predators roam free, and the drug and sex trades fuel the local economy. After watching the sadistic capitalist named Drake (Brian Downey) and his stooge sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman) behead an uncooperative citizen openly on a residential street, our homeless hero decides to take the law into his own hands. Instead of buying his dream lawmower, the Hobo decides to purchase a shotgun and make these degenerate terrorizers pay.

What ensues is a bloodbath of bodies exploding and heads rolling as the Hobo systematically starts at the bottom ridding the streets of lowly thugs, exploitative filmmakers, and perverted pedophiles. Along the way our Hobo meets up with a prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) who provides him with shelter and warmth away from the streets and the armed citizens that have been persuaded, rather underhandedly, to locate and murder him. Eventually the Hobo sets his target on a particular sex offending police officer before aiming the barrels of his shotgun on Drake and his heinous empire.

If all this seems a little over-the-top, you're absolutely right. Some of the scenes are a bit to take in, and can be downright shocking to watch. Whether or not it's too much is really going to be the determining factor of your enjoyment of this film. If you can stomach the blood and guts what you'll find is an entertaining film filled with deep, moral questions and unquestionably memorable scenes. The dialogue in the film is surprisingly funny, with each scene having some very memorable one-liners (usually highly offensive too) such as "You and me are going on a car ride to hell, and you're riding shotgun!" What's great about this movie is that every scene seems so well thought out and distinct, usually involving Hauer blasting away an evildoer such as a pimp or a pedophile in a comedic manner, it would be near impossible for this film to not to become a grindhouse classic.

Not only is this a superb film, but there are extras galore. For starters, there's a special Shotgun mode contained on disc one featuring commentary with Jason Eisner (Director), John Davies (Writer), Rob Cotterill (Producer) and David Brunt (Grindhouse Trailer "Hobo"). With this mode enabled, as the film plays a shotgun icon appears on screen and if you press Enter on your DVD remote a behind-the-scenes look at how that particular scene was produced will begin.

On disc two there a documentary called "More Blood, More Heart" that presents the making-of and contains acting spotlights of each character ranging from Rutger as the Hobo, Dunsworth as Abby the prostitute, the evil brothers Nick Bateman (Ivan) & Gregory Smith (Slick), and more. This piece also has an interesting look at David Brunt, the original Hobo on the Grindhouse trailer, and how they selected Rutger Hauer to replace him for the feature film. There are also Deleted Scenes, a short Alternate Ending, Video Blogs, a Camera Test Reel, Fangoria interviews with Rutger and Eisener, the original Grindhouse trailer, and the Canadian/US theatrical trailers. That's an awful lot of additional bonus content and if you enjoy the film you'll have hours of bonus content to root through.

This is going to be a really polarizing film and you're either going to love it or hate it. If you enjoy 80's grindhous-style movies in the same vein as Rodriguez's Planet Terror or Tarantino's Death Proof then you'll enjoy this film immensely. After watching this film it'll be forever etched into your memory, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how much gore you can stomach. One thing is certain though, taken for what it is Hobo is awesome, and it's lasting appeal is without question.