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Review: Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

by Aaron Vaccaro – Head Writer

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Best Bad Quote:

“When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat… covered in razor blades.”

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In a time where every movie seems to be based on some comic book superhero, who knew that the most captivating and unlikely superhero would be a hobo with a shotgun?  During my life, I’ve seen a lot of terrible movies.  Movies that should never have been conceived, let alone shot.  Movies that make you want to shoot yourself in the face with a shotgun.  Movies that almost make you hate watching movies.  But then, a movie comes around that makes enduring the likes of Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Fast Five worth every minute.  A movie that somehow validates our bizarre hobby of subjecting ourselves to the bottom of the celluloid basement.  Hobo with a Shotgun is that movie.  A perfectly executed grindhouse movie should have you cringing, laughing, and cheering.  HwaS will have you doing all three at the same time and everything a Grindhouse flick should be.

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I have to be honest, I had high hopes for this film.  Higher hopes than any normal human being should have for a movie called Hobo with a Shotgun.  But having been invested since the genesis of the project, I knew Jason Eisener’s back story and how he won Robert Rodriguez’s fake trailer contest back in 2007 to promote Grindhouse.  Winning that contest allowed him to get the financing to bring HwaS to feature length reality.  After I saw the trailer for the film, I knew were in store for something spectacular.

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HwaS is the story of a nomadic hobo (Rutger Hauer) who rides the rails into a new city and finds himself in the middle of an urban hell.  A city filled with the dregs of Earth – from drug dealers to corrupt cops to serial rapists.  Hell, there’s even a pedophilic Santa.  “Fuck Town” is indeed truly fucked.  The town is controlled by the sadistic Drake (Brian Downey) who controls the city by eliciting fear in its inhabitants.  Drake and his scumbag sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith), use that fear to do whatever the hell they damn well please.  The hobo witnesses one disturbing atrocity after another, sitting by idly, until he reaches his boiling point when Slick tries to kidnap and murder the young prostitute, Abby (Molly Dunsworth).  After saving the nubile street walker, the hobo develops a friendship with Abby.  They plan to get out of this town to eventually start their own gardening business.  But, the hobo can’t leave till he’s taken out the trash.  He procures himself a trusty pump action shotgun and begins “delivering justice… one shell at a time.”

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The first half of the movie is spent depicting just how despicable the scum of this town truly are.  At times, it borders on being hard to watch including a scene where Slick and Ivan proceed to torch a school bus filled with children with a flame thrower.  But the end most certainly justifies the means.   These distasteful acts are necessary to justify the hobo’s killing rampage, creating sympathy for the protagonist and pure contempt and hatred for the antagonist, Drake.

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Jason Eisener is the type of visionary storyteller that is lacking in Hollywood today.  Most filmmakers today are all style and no substance.  Yes, Michael Bay, I’m looking at you.    With one fantastic one-liner after another, the script for HwaS is smart, well-crafted, and downright hilarious.  Eisener has created a simple, powerful, gripping story that resonates with the everyman.  At one point, everyone has entertained the fantasy of being a vigilante superhero of sorts.  And if you say you haven’t, I know you’re a goddamn liar.  The fact of the matter is that we live in a time where the nightly news is dominated by robberies, rapes, and murders and it’s only natural to wish that someone could do away with that scum, creating a better world for all of us to live in.  That’s the type of justified righteousness that comes with this hobo and his shotgun.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Hauer’s performance as the nameless hobo.  As terrible as it sounds, I left feeling that Hauer was born to play this role.  He brings the perfect blend of intensity, humor, and sensitivity that makes you more than willing to join him on his scumbag scavenger hunt of justice.  Though it will never happen, I truly believe that Hauer deserves serious award consideration for his performance.  If this happens to be Hauer’s last film, which I hope it’s not, Hauer can rest assured that he went out on top because HwaS is the perfect swan song to his illustrious career.

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Truthfully, HwaS was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in years.  Everything about it was simply awe-inspiring.  The practical FX kick the shit out of CG any day of the year.  The musical score is fantastic and the cinematography makes transports you right back to the glory days of Grindhouse cinema.  Hobo with a Shotgun is everything that I wanted Machete to be, but wasn’t because it got mired down in the Hollywood machine.  Eisener stayed true to his vision and created a cult classic that will be revered by diehard fans for decades.

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Rating:

5 out of 5 Soon-to-be Decapitated Heads

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One Response to “Review: Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)”

  1. […] Line: If you don’t already know how much I adore this movie, I suggest you read my glowing review of this modern-day Grindhouse […]

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