Hobo With A Shotgun (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
6Jul/112

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)


Earlier this week Danny, Jacob and myself engaged in a good conversation about the responsibility that directors have to their audience and vice versa.  In the case of Hobo With A Shotgun, I can safely say that the intended audience and director are perfectly in synch.  I can also assume the position that whatever club these people are part of I want absolutely nothing to do with it.

I'm not the audience for a movie like Hobo With A Shotgun.  It doesn't seek to challenge its audience in any fashion, save perhaps for a bit of the old ultra-violence and supposed titillation that comes with it.  But the violence is old hat, it's just cleaned up gore from some of the messier Troma films and the sexual exploitation that comes along with it nearly induced a small panic in me for how anyone could find this entertaining.

The premise?  Hobo (Rutger Hauer) is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore.  He abandons his dreams of saving up for a lawnmower to start his own business and instead decides to clean up the streets of Hope Town with a shotgun after preventing the rape of Abby (Molly Dunsworth).  The hobo has to prevent this from happening a number of other times, leaving me queasy at the thought of screenwriting sessions where the writer sat back and went, "Hrm, needs more attempted rape."

There's a lot of fearless acting in this film but not to any worthwhile purpose.

They become friends and are mercilessly stalked by two Jersey Shore sadists (Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith) and their slickly dressed father known as The Drake (Brian Downey).  What's clear about everyone's participation in these roles is that it's a rare opportunity to take each character and turn them into the most hellish creation they can think of.  To the movie's credit, but not my enjoyment, they are absolutely successful in this regard.  But I am having trouble thinking of the experience where a line like "You're so hot you make me want to cut my dick off and rub it all over your titties" could be delivered in such a way as to not make me angrily nauseous.

This is a film straight from the fevered imagination of the most disturbed 13-year old and has no qualms admitting it.  In the opening scene a man is decapitated via barb wire and a runaway vehicle, right afterwards a woman in a big white fur coat and matching bikini comes out to bathe in the blood and rub herself orgasmically.  Why?  Because it's an exploitation film and this is the sort of thing that happens in exploitation films.

What fun.  Or not.

It doesn't help that the sight of all this red dyed corn syrup makes me queasy.

I hate these kinds of movies, and the fact that Hobo carries a degree of the creative spark makes it all the more unsettling that people couldn't find better use of their time.  There's a metaphorical line throughout the movie about the Hobo as a martyr.  This is enforced in a fairly scary scene when the Hobo is in Hell with demons and they mark off pictures of Jesus, Ghandi, Joan of Arc and, finally, the Hobo.

What's sad is how that little insight could have been turned into an entirely different movie.  One that examines the structure of our martyred heroes and how we sweep under the rug less savory or violent aspects of their past.  But all I can really remember is the perpetual screaming of a terrified young woman as a hacksaw slowly cuts into her neck far beyond the point where she could have kept pleading.

Yes.  Fun.

The film has all the nuance of a child pulling the legs of off a cat, blown up to feature length, and given the bombastic weight of an action film.  There's nothing to be gleaned here and if you find this sort of thing enjoyable have at it.  Chances are your nipples already perked up at one of my descriptions and you're rushing out to the store now.

I gladly tenure my resignation in the face of this trash.

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)
Directed by Jason Eisener.
Screenplay by John Davies.
Starring Rutger Hauer and Molly Dunsworth.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. I still think both you and Danny missed the directors intention. I see Hobo as more of a parody of crappy action flicks than a serious attempt at drama. The rape, the ridiculously over-the-top cop, all of it seemed like a slam at modern writers who try to make their work ‘edgier’ or more ‘mature’ just by throwing rape in there. To me the film is more a ‘splatstick’ comedy about how most films try to hard to be cool by being outrageous to a completely stupid degree, and on that level I think it succeeded.

    Andrew: I did not, for a single word, mention anywhere in my piece that this was even slightly intended to be a serious drama because it’s gratuitously obvious that it’s not. It’s very style belies the fact that it’s not intended as a parody of crappy action movies because of the hardcore violence and sexism that pervades it. This director is actually trying to be edgy, he’s trying to make an exploitation film that rivals some of the grotesqueries of the late 70’s and 80’s, which is why the bright color palette off-set by the harsh video stock and even typeface used are a direct throwback to those kinds of films (which isn’t to say anything about that soundtrack). Not every film like this is trying to take on directors for being “edgy”, there is so much unsettling rape in this movie that it goes beyond the point of parody and circles back around to being sadistic. This is not a stupid film, it knows exactly what it’s doing (queue style, story decisions and over-the-top acting), and it’s using the violence in an exploitative, not parodic, way. Hobo With A Shotgun is to exploitation movies as House of A Thousand Corpses is to horror movies, it’s a lovingly crafted homage to a specific style of film that pushes its genre to the very brink.

  2. Pretty sure ‘House’ was intended, at least partially, as parody, too. And I’ll admit that I may have been looking for parody that just wasn’t there, having been a fan of the original ‘fake’ trailer, which clearly is a parody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LlazPgxKrA

    Andrew: Humor doesn’t automatically mean parody. This’ll be fairly simplistic – but parody, for the most part, is assuming a position above the material and says “Isn’t this silly?” (more Airplane! and Fatal Instinct). In contrast, Sam Raimi isn’t making a parody of horror films in Evil Dead 2, it was still intended to scare to some extent, he just injected it with a lot of humor. This is the same thing that Zombie does in House and the same thing that director Jason Eisner does in Hobo. Look up a few interviews with him about the movie (http://collider.com/jason-eisener-interview-hobo-with-a-shotgun/88635/ – for one), he’s got a genuine interest in exploitation movies (which, considering his talents, is a shame but I won’t comment too much more on that) and wasn’t interested in making fun of the material but presenting it in, to him, the purest form possible. The original fake trailer of Hobo is in the style of exploitation films, which used the kind of violence that Hobo takes to it’s logical (for the genre anyway) presentation at today’s level of gore producing budgetry. I still don’t quite see how it’s a parody of exploitation movies, or to ask a different way, how is it actually making fun of them? They’re still so mired in their stylistic conventions without actually taking a step back and asking the “Is this silly?” question.


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