Country: United States
Genre: Action/ Exploitation/ Horror
Director: Jason Eisener
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
There are good exploitation movies and bad exploitation movies, just like any other kind of flick. Good exploitation movies work on a number of levels, provide surprises, and have a subtext. Bad exploitation movies may be lurid but lazy, lacking craft and a purpose for being.
An example of a bad exploitation movie would be Hell Ride, with its needlessly confusing narrative and godawful dialog, which was supposed to be witty.
Hobo With A Shotgun is one of the good ones. You would never know this by reading a mainstream media critic. All they will see is that is that Hobo With A Shotgun is over the top graphically violent, and glories in a grungy, trashy atmosphere.
You know you’re in pretty good hands within the first minute or so. Hobo With A Shotgun is shot in surrealistically over-saturated color. We see the title character (Rutger Hauer) riding the rails, accompanied by what folks in the know would recognize as a 70s era Italian spaghetti western music score. It’s a perfect choice and made me laugh. What we’re seeing is a tongue in cheek depiction of the title character as a romantic hero, but it’s not so on the nose as to insult your intelligence. The joke is there if you want to get it, but it isn’t shoved in your face, either.
The misc en scene, as over the top as it might be, is an extrapolation of present circumstances. The economy and culture has deteriorated to the point that if you’re female, one of the only ways to get by is by selling your body, and if you’re male, by being a criminal. The Hobo fantasizes about buying a lawn mower because then he could make money as a handyman. It’s absurd, but dramatizes how degraded the culture depicted in the film is.
The villains dress like preppies, an allusion to the corporatocracy currently running the United States.
The criminal family that runs things in town rules through fear. The police serve the interests of those in power. Sound familiar?
Will we end up with something like the lawless hell Hobo With A Shotgun depicts? I don’t think so, and I don’t think the filmmakers really believe it, either. It’s just an extra layer to enjoy.
Another thing I liked about Hobo With A Shotgun is that the filmmakers don’t take it easy on our heroes. They aren’t invincible, like in many revenge fantasies.
In keeping with the over saturation of colors and the over the top violence, the performances are pitched at an absurd level, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad. Drake (Brian Downey), Slick (Gregory Smith), and Ivan (Nick Bateman) may be caricatures, but they start off from reality.
The plotting is tight, with exposition and character woven in, instead of of delivered in clumsy chunks. Now, this isn’t entirely true. There are some moments which are cheesy, but they don’t really violate the reality of the story because it’s such a cartoon in the first place.
For my money, the dialogue in the script by John Davies could have been more tightly sculpted, a little less self-consciously trashy. A little more craft would have been welcome. The characterizations, especially of our heroes, could have been a little more believable, even in the context of the piece.
In an obvious exploitation scenario like this, it’s a delicate balance to create believable, sympathetic characters at the same time you’re eviscerating, flame broiling and otherwise doing obscene things to the human body onscreen.
Hobo With A Shotgun is a long way from perfect, but there’s a lot to enjoy here, provided you actually enjoy exploitation flicks. And if you’re a mainstream type of guy or gal, what are you doing on a website called TrashCinemaClub.com, anyway?