At the screening of Hobo with a Shotgun
I attended, director Jason Eisener
came out to briefly talk about the movie, its origins as a fan-made fake trailer for Quentin Tarantino
and Robert Rodriguez's Grindhouse
, and also a strange story from the film's production. Eisener spoke of one of the on-set extras, a man who had spent his entire life legally blind. He had corrective surgery in the weeks prior, but his newly acquired sight had yet to take effect. Then, during the filming of a scene in which a man is brutally decapitated, setting off a blast of fake arterial spray and sending a woman in a white bikini into a writhing dance of blood-showering ecstasy, his sight suddenly returned. This vision, of a bikini-clad blood freak entranced by a downpour of watery gore, was the first thing he ever saw.
His response? "Wow, red is so beautiful!"
It's difficult to imagine that particular tableau as the inaugural image for one's visual perception, though to be fair, that isn't even the most psyche-damaging scene in Hobo with a Shotgun
--not by a long shot. Every successive moment of this movie is carefully constructed to build up the movie's "holy fuck" factor at an exponential rate. There is no downtime, no lull in the action. Eisener and co-writer John Davies
pace this thing like a shark's existence, as if stopping for even a moment would lead to immediate death. It's the cinematic equivalent of eating a whole plate of fried chicken skin. It's all the best-tasting, deeply unhealthy violence of the grindhouse genre, with none of the boring, meaty parts. Well, there are some meaty parts, but they're usually raw... and exploding.
Eisener and crew clearly mean to pay tribute to the genre, much as Rodriguez and Tarantino did in their double-feature, but also like those movies, Hobo
occasionally veers a tad close to the realm of the overly-knowing parody. This is especially the case in the early goings, where the movie's feverishly over-the-top energy feels more assaultive than celebratory.
From the moment Rutger Hauer's
titular hobo strolls into the downtrodden town that the film takes place in--which, by the way, might be the closest anyone has ever come to capturing on film the vibe of the old Midway arcade game, NARC
--he's already stumbled on video taped bum fights, child molesters, thieves, and pimps running unchecked, and a local gangster (Trailer Park Boys
' Robb Wells
) getting the aforementioned beheading by local impresario of everything evil, The Drake (Brian Downey
), and his two sons (Gregory Smith
and Nick Bateman
), who each look like they stepped out of a Repertory Theater of Hell production of Risky Business
These early scenes are pure hyperactive style, a million crazed camera angles and batshit statements that, initially, make you wonder what the hell you've just gotten yourself into. But then the script catches up with the direction and we finally have something to grab onto for the rest of the ride--namely, Hauer's vigilante justice binge. Angered by Drake's bloodlust and greed at the expense of the town's people, and shunned by the town's corrupt police department, Hauer finds himself in the care of a young prostitute (Molly Dunsworth
), which gives our trusty Hobo his reason to grab a shotgun and begin laying non-stop waste to the town's criminal element--not to mention ample opportunity to wax poetic about everything from the innocence of newborn babies to self metaphors regarding the solitary nature of wild bears.
Who better but Hauer to deliver a missive to a room full of newborns or utter loopy dialogue like, "We're going on a ride to Hell, and you're riding SHOTGUN!" to an about-to-be-dead criminal? Though he's mostly been relegated to supporting villain work over the last several years, Hauer in Hobo with a Shotgun
is Hauer at his crazed, craggily best. He is simply the perfect embodiment of grizzled insanity.
And yet, he's almost mild-mannered compared to the scenery demolishing performances from everyone else in the movie. Smith and Bateman are particularly unhinged as Drake's boys. They combine rich boy brattiness with frat boy rapiness into something downright manically despicable. And Downey as Drake is really something to behold. It's as if the demon Pazuzu inhabited the body of Robert Blake
, and became a carnival ringmaster. He's so fantastically over-the-top that a line like "When life gives you razorblades... you make a baseball bat out of razorblades!" seems completely reasonable escaping his tightly-gritted teeth.
That is one of the movie's better lines, by the way, but don't worry, because Eisener and Davies deliver scads of great, stupid pieces of dialogue throughout. And when they aren't constantly one-upping themselves with increasingly bizarre one-liners, they're gleefully severing limbs, blow-torching innocents, and shotgunning body after body at such a harried clip that by the time they decide to inflict a pair of armored, motorcycle riding medieval torture experts, known only as "The Plague," on the audience, you're already too blooddrunk to even attempt to reason why any of this is happening.
And if you aren't? Then you have most certainly walked into the wrong movie. Hobo with a Shotgun
is not a misnomer. The title is not metaphor. It's every bit the hyper-violent, hyper-offensive, on-purpose garbage its title makes itself out to be. For fans of the grindhouse classics, it's parody and tribute all wrapped into one intoxicatingly gory package, and it's sincerely, seriously great at what it does.