Promises—and delivers—trash cinema

Hobo with a Shotgun

on January 27, 2011 by Steve Ramos
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hobowithashotgunreview.pngThe winning entry of the Grindhouse Trailer Contest and a YouTube sensation grows into a full-length feature and a worthy contribution to pulp cinema. Hobo With A Shotgun made its world premiere in the Park City at Midnight section of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and is a fan-friendly movie that delivers on its genre promises. Hobo also welcomes director Jason Eisener and writer John Davies as a clever creative pair ready to add new bloody classics to the trash cinema canon. Better yet, Eisener and Davies introduce Rutger Hauer, star of '80s pulp classic The Hitcher and many other films, to a new generation of fans as the raggedy wandering hero who takes it upon himself to battle a crime boss with little more than a shotgun.

With squishy gore and ample gunfire, Hobo With A Shotgun has the potential to be a top performer for Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of specialty distributor Magnolia Pictures, when it plays in arthouses and on-demand this spring. Crossover biz will be slight, even with Hauer as the titular hero, but strong turnout by genre fans will help make Hobo With A Shotgun a B-movie hit.

A kind-hearted hobo (Hauer) jumps off the freight train with the intention of making his new home better and earning some extra money via a secondhand lawnmower. But Drake (Brian Downey), the city's crime boss and his two thuggish sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), attempt to rid themselves of the hobo by tossing him on a trash heap. Committed to staying in his newfound home and armed with a shotgun, the hobo partners with a pretty woman named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) to take on his assailants and the results are bloody fun.

Hauer, best known for his recent supporting role opposite Christian Bale in Batman Begins, is both courageous and slightly demented as the titular hero who battles the crime boss and his sons. Imagine Nicolas Cage playing a combination of his roles from Kick-Ass and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and you'll get the idea. Hauer looks grizzled throughout Hobo and his wrinkled face and bulging belly suit the titular hero perfectly.

Newcomer Molly Dunsworh brings welcome sex appeal to the adventure as the hobo's leggy partner. Gregory Smith as Slick, Brian Downey as Drake and especially Nick Bateman as Ivan supply the film with its bloodiest fun. A hero like the hobo needs colorful opponents to fight and Smith, Downey and Bateman are all up to the task.

Eisener follows up on his popular Sundance short Treevenge, a hilariously horrific look at Christmas trees, with another film that flaunts its low-budget origins and throws you from laughter into screams. Cinematographer Karim Hussain, costume designer Sarah Dunsworth and production designer Ewen Dickson collaborate to give the film's Dartmouth, Nova Scotia locations the look and feel of a Roger Corman production circa '73.

Hobo may claim Hauer in a fun role but without a high-profile supporting cast along the lines of Machete it's not enough to attract an audience broader than the core B-movie fan base. Still, social media helped make the Hobo trailer an Internet sensation, which suggests that a strong social networking campaign could make the feature a top-grossing release for Magnet. While genre fans are used to seeing studio action movies get watered down to service larger audiences, Hobo is trash cinema through and through and gives fans everything they want from a drive-in throwback. That's something that doesn't happen often.

Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey and Nick Bateman
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriter: John Davies
Producers: Frank Siracusa, Paul Gross, Niv Fichman and Rob Cotterill
Genre: Action/Comedy
Running Time: 86 min
Rating: Unrated
Release date: Unset

Tags: Rob Cotterill, Niv Fichman, Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa, John Davies, James Gunn, Nick Bateman, Brian Downey, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Rutger Hauer
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