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DVD Review: ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’

★★★☆☆

It’s amazing to think that two feature length movies have spawned from the ‘fake trailers’ that appeared during 2007’s Grindhouse double bill. What’s even more amazing that the two films in question have probably done better in terms of critical reception than Grindhouse itself, one of which is Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun (2011).

After winning the South by Southwest Grindhouse trailers contest,  Hobo with a Shotgun’s popularity exploded, and just like Robert Rodriquez’s Machete (2010), its popularity meant that a feature film version was just around the corner. The problem with this however, is that while Hobo with a Shotgun was a very entertaining three minute trailer, would it be able to translate into an hour and a half movie?

In short, it doesn’t translate well. The film is low on ideas, which leads to the plot moving quite slowly and all builds to an incredibly anti-climatic finish. Yet none of this really matters, because Hobo with a Shotgun is not a film that was made for those reasons.

The film centres around a nameless hobo (Rutger Hauer) as he steps off a train into a town that is literally over-run by crime. While he tries to ignore what’s happening around him, crime boss Drake (Brian Dowling) and his two idiot sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (new comer Nick Bateman) run wild with their gameshow torture. When the hobo can’t take anymore, he spends his remaining $50 (that was intended for a lawnmower so he can start his own business) and spends it on a shotgun to take vigilante justice into his own hands. From crooked cops to paedophile Santas, no one is safe from the ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’.

Unlike recent Roger Corman TV monster movies like Sharktopus (2010) and Dinoshark (2010), Hobo with a Shotgun is a bad movie that at least tries to be a good movie. It’s not asking to be taken seriously, but at the same time Eisener is still trying to produce a film that is entertaining. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments and some of the gory set pieces are fantastic. Hauer takes to the role like a duck to water and completely understands the tongue in cheek nature of the movie. The same can be said for Brian Downey, who perfectly plays the gameshow-esque villain of the piece as he parades around the set literally chewing the scenery.

But, as previously mentioned, the film doesn’t hold up for the entire 86 minutes. It runs out of steam by the time the third act rolls around and the film stumbles into an inevitable conclusion.

While it’s a shame that Hobo with a Shotgun doesn’t quite keep up with its own slow pace, it’s certainly fun while it lasts. The gore is entertaining, the laughs are genuine and the acting is campy fun. Good for a laugh with friends, but unfortunately nothing more.

Luke Owen