Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Hobo with a Shotgun

Hobo with a Shotgun
Dir. Jason Eisener
Year: 2011
Aus Rating: R18+
Running Time: 86mins

Here’s a theory I would genuinely like to raise with Hobo with a Shotgun director Jason Eisener: If the directors of the 1960s and ‘70s grindhouse titles he so obvious adores had come into prominence today, would they make films as ugly and poorly done as this? Or would they, as I suspect they would, actually utilise the medium at their feet and allow their visions to flourish amidst the mountains of filmmaking possibilities.

Such is just one of the many, many problems with Eisener’s decrepit zombie corpse of a film. It trades on grindhouse cinema tropes from decades past, yet the people that made those films were making honest films through the only means possible. If it meant having to cast a lowly paid coffee shop waitress then so be it, but they surely never asked their cast to deliberately act like they’d just walked out of a lobotomy office. They also surely never made their films look dingy on purpose, drowning out the visuals when it’s been proven what can be achieved on a budget one sixth of the size in Gareth Edwards’ Monsters and plenty of others. Say what you will about the technical exercise that was Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s GrindHouse, but they made films that their heroes would make today if given the opportunity. They made films that took what they’d seen and interpreted it with modern day filmmaking methods. Hobo with a Shotgun, however, is nothing more than mere reproduction, right on down to the tokenistic poster designs and credit sequences.

Jason Eisener’s film arrives in cinemas with unique cache. It’s title and premise alone, as well as nudge-wink Tarantino-esque casting of Rutger Hauer, promised gullible festival audiences (of which I nearly was) a raucous good time, but it’s a rather cynical exercise. The grindhouse cinema Eisener is so desperately copying was made on the smell of an oily rag and a pit of fire in the belly to tell a story nobody else was willing to tell. Eisener’s only fire is to get a career in Hollywood by tricking festival audiences into seeing his film. It’s Eisener’s version of a child stamping his feet and waving his arms wildly exclaiming “look what I can do!” Sadly, what Eisener can do is not much more than sickening, mean-spirited, ugly trash. There isn’t anything energetic or joyful about Hobo with a Shotgun, nor anything brave, exciting and intellectually confronting. It looks ugly, is badly acted and crudely directed because that’s all Eisener was able to ascertain the original films were noteworthy for.

A hobo with no name arrives by train into a new town that is essentially lawless and overrun by criminal thugs. He witnesses the gruesome death of a stranger at the hands of a local gangster and before long sets out on correcting the town of its ills. The audience is asked to laugh along as this old, homeless gent struts about time laying waste to thuggery and hoodlums with a shotgun he purchased with money he wanted to use to buy a lawn mower. LOL, those homeless people are so weird! Of course, the violence is sickening, but always played for laughs. Especially the scene where a school bus full of young children is burnt to a crisp. That scene was hilarious, especially so when they brought it back as an even cheaper gag later in the film!!!

The entirety of Hobo with a Shotgun is nothing more than repugnant crassness, steeped in unpleasant violence and a seemingly endless bag of scum imagery. I was never so happy to walk outside of a cinema and bask in sunlight than I was after the morning screening of this film. Eisener shows such a distinct lack of understanding about film here, but the fact that since seeing it I have read so many fans of the film say “it’s meant to bad!” has made it even worse. Why would anybody want to watch a film that was deliberately made to be as bad as possible? When a filmmaker actively wants people to pay top dollar for a film that they admit is bad just so they can get cool points with the hip kids is insulting. Hobo with a Shotgun belongs in the trash. F


thebutcher said...

Completely agree with you. I won tickets for this movie and since I love exploitation flicks from the 70's/80's and Rutger Hauer (who doesn't?) I thought this was going to be awesome.

Turned out to be an over the top exercise in trashy parody with no fun to be had whatsoever. And I actually walked out with a headache from the constant screaming from EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER! Ugh...

(PS: Did you abandon your Scream-by-scene project?)

Glenn Dunks said...

Thanks! The screaming was incessant, wasn't it?

(PS: No, I haven't. Just need to get that motivation back!)