Film Review: Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

Release Date: January 21st, 2011 (Sundance)
Directed by: Jason Eisener
Written by: John Davies, Jason Eisener
Music by: Alexander Rosborough
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman

Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films, Yer Dead Productions, Alliance Films, Magnet Releasing, 86 Minutes


“There’s something else about bears not many people know. If a bear gets hooked on the taste of human blood, it becomes a man-killer. He’ll go on a rampage and has to be destroyed. And that’s why you should never hug a bear.” – Hobo

Back when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse came out, they held a contest for fans to make their own fake grindhouse style trailers, as an interactive marketing campaign to help promote the film. Jason Eisener won the contest with his trailer for Hobo With a Shotgun. In certain parts of Canada, Eisener’s trailer was featured with screenings of the film. This eventually lead to him making a real film from the fake trailer, similar to what Robert Rodriguez did with his fake trailer for Machete.

Before this, Eisener’s only directing experience was his short film about murderous Christmas trees called Treevenge.

This motion picture is just as unique as its backstory.

Hobo With a Shotgun is an ultraviolent spectacle that is reminiscent of the old school grindhouse films that inspired it but at the same time, it is truly its own thing.

Somehow, Eisener got Rutger Hauer to star in this thing and his presence gives it a sort of legitimacy and gravitas that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. Sure, this is low budget and has cheap practical effects but so did the movies it was an homage to. But this isn’t a straight homage, it is a film with its own style that successfully taps into different realms and different genres while still feeling like a cohesive body of work.

The story is very simple, a hobo comes to town on a train. He is immediately disgusted by the culture he encounters in this new place. It doesn’t take long before he decides to pick up a shotgun and go banana sandwich on the scumbags that shit on everything good and decent. He befriends a sweet and pretty cute hooker, who starts as a damsel in distress but winds up being a total badass herself.

The thing about this film, is that it isn’t just violent. It crosses a lot of lines but in a fantastic way. There is a scene where children on a school bus get cooked alive by a psycho with a flamethrower, there are guns held to babies faces, pedophiles dressed as Santa, rapey cops, ice skates used in creative and deadly ways, a giant octopus creature, a totally f’n awesome duo of armored biker mercenaries and about a dozen other things I’m not going to list out. As shocking as a lot of the things in the movie are, you are still surprised by them and their overabundance sort of makes light of it all, as this film’s setting turns into an over the top, insane world where nothing is actually shocking and the psychos are incredibly innovative and ingenious.

If you are easily offended or can’t take violence, steer absolutely clear of this picture. If you have a strong appreciation for the art and style of grindhouse pictures, this will not disappoint you and it will probably impress you. There is a certain level of artistic merit to violent filth and this movie is a prime example of the beauty of gore used intelligently and creatively, as opposed to gore just for the sake of gore.

Hobo With a Shotgun is an absurdist’s wet dream. Well, an absurdist who doesn’t mind blood, guts and shotgun blasts.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Other modern grindhouse and retro films: Planet TerrorDeath ProofTurbo KidKung Fury, etc. Also, Jason Eisener’s short film Treevenge.

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