Hobo With a Shotgun

Year: 2011
Production Co: Rhombus Media
Director: Jason Eisener
Producer: Rob Cotterill
Writer: Jason Eisener/John Davies/Rob Cotterill
Cast: Rutger Hauer

You have to like exploitation films, and if you do, this is a great one. It could have just been a one-note joke hanging off the title, but writer/director Jason Eisener understands the genre and gives it the characterisations, tone and even the camerawork that form the backbone of grindhouse cinema.

There was a moment where the camera pans across a street scene where the Hobo (Hauer) is looking over the vice and filth of the city that's so low-fi it almost looks like a fish eye lens. Along with everything else in the film, it makes you realise Eisener knows what he's doing.

He also takes a very serious tack, as if the movie was actually made in the very early 80s for no money. Everyone from Hauer as the titular hero to the over-the-top villains play it completely straight, no matter how cheap the bloodshed or how funny the script or characters – there's a hilarious monologue of the Hobo snarling a monologue to a hospital maternity ward full of babies about how innocent and unblemished they are before the world inevitably screws them up.

All he wants to do is stay out of the ways of the crack dealers, thugs, pimps and hookers on the street and survive, occasionally dreaming of the lawnmower he sees in a pawn shop window and covets desperately.

He's already witnessed the brutality of local crime lord Drake and his two cruel sons that serve as his aides and enforcers, but Hobo gets his chance when he earns $50 for eating glass on camera for a local sicko who videos street fights and sells the footage online.

When he goes back to the pawn shop, it's robbed by a brutal gang and Hobo is pushed one step too far. Instead of the lawnmower, he buys a pump action shotgun and becomes a street vigilante, falling in with a pretty young hooker who takes care of him after she herself has fallen victim to the thuggish crime lords' minders.

Blowing away corrupt cops and criminals with gay abandon, Hobo has the villainous terrified and the city inspired by his example. But the man who runs the city isn't going to let a Hobo with a shotgun bring down his empire, and he unleashes two of the coolest movie bad guys of the year with their steel armour, motorcylces and highly impractical weapons and methods.

It's funny not because Eisener or Hauer are winking at you the whole time (not even with the fake blood and ridiculous effects), but because it's a great homage to an age where people with no talent or resources made horror or action movies they thought were serious.

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