daniel cohen reviews the new cult classic …
Plot: When a homeless man (Rutger Hauer) arrives in a new town, he discovers it’s overrun by crime and corruption, perpetrated by Drake (Brian Downey) who brutally kills anyone in his way. With no one to turn to, the hobo gets a shotgun, taking out all law breakers one by one.
I’m sure the first thing you’re thinking of when you read the title Hobo With A Shotgun is how many Oscars will it win? Well, probably none, but Hobo With A Shotgun is a funny, ridiculous, and gruesome little romp. It’s definitely aware of what it is at it feels like something out of the late-’70s/early-’80s, right down to the way the title flashes across the screen. In fact, I had to double check this came out in 2011, because it looks so old and decrepit, like the film cost around $5.50 to make.
This is basically what Mortal Kombat would be like if it was a comedy. The score sets a great tone for the film, I love it. It’s so ’70s intense over-the-top, but a lot of fun. Kind of like something you would hear on an old arcade game. But even though this is silly, it’s not for the faint of heart. There’s guts, blood, and decapitations every where.
The soul of the movie is in its ‘acting.’ Rutger Hauer plays the hobo, which is interesting, because I remember him as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises back in 2005’s Batman Begins. Of course, in that movie, Wayne fires him when he takes control of the company. Wow … I wonder if this is what happened to that character after he lost the company: he turned into a traveling hobo. In fact, he becomes a vigilante. Perhaps he was inspired from seeing it done in Gotham City. When he’s not fighting and kicking ass, there’s not much to Hauer’s performance. There’s a great moment when he’s delivering this really serious monologue at the hospital, but you can’t help but laugh, which I’m sure was intended. But when he gets into some action, the one-liners are classic, especially his last one. He’s a bad ass, especially when he hits people with his sack of coins. But the shotgun, which is basically like his Thor hammer, is used to great effect. I’d love to see a best supporting actor nomination for the shotgun. to be honest with you. It really emotes when it needs to.
I think I enjoyed the bad guys even more than the hobo though. Brain Downey plays Drake, the main crime lord. He’s basically a villainous game show host that’s kind of like Richard Dawson in the Running Man, but more hyper-active. He’s got a gruesome signature kill.
But even funnier than him were his two sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). These guys were hysterical, parading around like a couple of evil Stiflers. They are psychotic jocks, equipped with their own little letterman jackets. A lot of Ivan’s dialogue referenced the male anatomy, which was a little much. But I would love to see Slick and Ivan have their own movie, going off on a road trip as they brutally kill people.
The style is pretty consistent as it’s a self-aware vigilante gore fest parody…with hobos. Some of the camera angles got irritating though as we get these zoom-ins into close-ups of someone getting scared or killed. But the direction of the shotgun was great. It always took me by surprise whenever it slides into the screen ready to unleash havoc. I also like the color scheme. Sometimes the screen goes all red, blue, or green, but it’s a pretty gritty and nifty look that adds a lot to the atmosphere.
Now, the film is 86 minutes, which is pretty short. But even with this run time, it still felt a little long. Let’s face it: When you call a movie Hobo With A Shotgun, it’s mostly a gimmick. I was thinking to myself, ‘Alright, maybe this will be funny and entertaining for about 30 minutes, but there’s no way they can maintain this.’ To the film’s credit, it stretches this concept as far as it can go. But it does drag, especially when the hobo is having heart to hearts with Abby (Molly Dunsworth), a young woman he grows affection for. Dunsworth is good in the movie, but it’s just like, come on: get to the hobo shooting people scenes.
This is really entertaining. It’s completely insane and over the top. I did lose interest here and there though, and the end was underwhelming. There’s also a scene involving a school bus that went a little too far for my taste, but other than that, the gore and violence was gruesome and fun. This is no masterpiece, but it’s a solid flick.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Slightly better than ‘meh’)