Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Hobo With A Shotgun' Takes Aim At Good Taste, Obliterates Target

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist May 4, 2011 at 2:37AM

The following is a reprint of our review from the Film Comment Selects program at Lincoln Center.
2


The following is a reprint of our review from the Film Comment Selects program at Lincoln Center.

Based on a fake trailer shot for "Grindhouse," Jason Eisener's "Hobo With A Shotgun" is less of a movie and more of a sensibility run amok. It's blood, violence and ugliness writ large, and it's genuinely delirious in its intentions to ferry a flaming viking ship of bad intentions straight to hell. Of course, to pay money for "Hobo With A Shotgun" is to endorse a naked sense of lawlessness already, avoiding it provides the exact opposite moral. But to love cinema, you have to love cinema of the diseased, and Eisener's directorial debut is borderline rabid.


Turns out, this small Canadian town is run by an ice-cream-suited millionaire simply called The Drake. An older man with a short temper and strong sociopath tendencies, The Drake runs a criminal enterprise big enough that he can claim the attention of the innocents so they can watch him murder one of the "Trailer Park Boys," which is pretty serious, since they could double as Canadian royalty in some provinces. Our hobo watches as this poor man is beaten and beheaded by The Drake and his henchman sons, but he seeks no quarrel, content to pass through.

Of course, he watches as crime starts to escalate, resulting in the threat of violence against a pretty blond hooker (a game Molly Dunsworth) whom he befriends. It's her trust that causes him to take notice and do something about The Drake's reign. Coupled with a startlingly violent attack where he finds that the local police department also sides with The Drake, our homeless hero reacts to the failures of these institutions with a shotgun that might as well be powered by hellfire.

The bleached digital look that gives the film its visual style creates a grimy, disgusting, cheap aesthetic that seemed near-extinct, particularly in the wake of the fakey post-"Grindhouse" tributes that often botched the visual style as much as the content of the era it was presumably celebrating. "Hobo With A Shotgun" resembles the most upsetting of the video nasties, the films found in the most dimly-lit area of your VHS rental outlet, reserved for cheap films that so shamelessly utilized low-budget aesthetics and morals that you came in looking for cheap thrills and came out needing a bath.

Similarly, "Hobo With A Shotgun" has enough cutaway inserts to exploding bodies that it surely stands out was one of the most vile of recent action pictures. The violence is imaginatively blunt, showcasing body parts being flayed practically but reacting unconventionally. Necks and shoulder blades take hacksaws and keep going despite chunks of flesh shooting in all directions. There is lawnmower carnage and it is, fortunately, highly improbable in the damage it can do to a human arm.

But it isn't merely blood and guts. Eisener is smart enough to showcase that The Drake's capitalist rule relies on his handling of the media. Once the local news starts to spotlight the vengeful hero, The Drake finds a way to capitalize on the urban children in the area by using the news to rebrand our protagonist from hero to menace. Furthermore, he allows for a reward for those who would bring the old man to "justice," a reward based on the illusion and misuse of power, which The Drake knows lower-income households recognize as fast cars and loose women (and in one "Bumfights"-inspired scene, self-degradation).

There's considerable power to Hauer's performance. Unlike, say, the otherwise-engaging Danny Trejo in the jokey "Machete," Hauer imbues his character with a quiet dignity and a peaceful serenity. He's sincere in that he's only an old man who can't take it anymore. Further complicating the film's shady moral compass is the fact that Hauer plays his hobo as a man slowly starting to lose his temperament and identity, which results in a nearly delusional figurehead for the story.

The gunshots ring loud and the blood is thick and light red in "Hobo With A Shotgun," which might be all that you need to know. But unlike the mixed immigration messages of "Machete," there's a palpable "us vs. them" tenor to the picture, as we learn in a bizarre third act detour that The Drake's economic-fueled reign of terror may be the result of the century's great equalizers, a duo (or more?) called The Plague. While the gesture is certainly over the top, it earmarks "Hobo With A Shotgun" as one of the few counterculture curios of recent years that honestly feels like it isn't made by the faceless, tasteless fools in charge. [A-]

This article is related to: Review, Films, Hobo With A Shotgun


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates