The Nateflix Review of Hobo with a Shotgun
By Nate Hensley
The best thing about Hobo with a Shotgun is that the title tells you everything you need to know. Big budget movies usually have bland-as-hell titles, but struggling indie films use every weapon they have to get your attention – and that includes having a snappy, attention-grabbing title.
And quite simply, either the title Hobo with a Shotgun makes you grin like an idiot and say “dude, I have to see this movie,” or it makes you crinkle your nose and say “sounds stupid.” I fell into the former category. The thought of Rutger Hauer as a half-insane street person pushed too far and driven to start killing scumbags made me positively giddy with anticipation.
And the movie met, and exceeded all of my wildest B-movie expectations. One does not approach this kind of movie with the same set of criteria one applies to, say, a movie by Scorsese, Spielberg, or the Coen Brothers. This is a movie to be compared to exploitation classics like Toxic Avenger, Death Race 2000, and Surf Nazis Must Die. And when viewed through this lens, its hard to imagine Hobo with a Shotgunbeing any more perfect.
Hauer rides the rails into an urban sprawl with a friendly moniker of Scum Town. He sees rapes, beatings, murders, and worse. Local crime overlord The Drake and his two sons operate nightclub where rich kids can beat homeless people to death. Bums are videotaped mutilating each other. A pedophile Santa drives around unchecked. Bad cops rape prostitutes. Hauer saves and befriends a hooker with a heart of gold. He is nuts enough to think she’s a school teacher. And when he finally loses it and picks up a shotgun, she may be the only person who has his back.
And honestly, this is just scratching the surface. I could spend a whole column just chronicling the stomach-churning evil committed in Scum Town. This is movie bathed in garishly bright red blood, and swimming in bad taste. Not many movies could makeDrive Angry look tame, but this one does it in about five minutes.
The movie was conceived, shot, and edited like a low-budget 70s exploitation flick (indeed, its origins are in winning the Grindhouse make-your-own-trailer contest), but it shoots the moon, goes for broke, and tries to make itself as memorably disgusting and unforgettably over the top as possible. Oh, did I not mention the two professional killers who wear suits of armor and speak through voice modulators? Yeah, its that kind of movie.
And yet, there are the smaller moments – like when a beaten and bloodied Rutger is being dragged to his death and shouts “Yer crushin’ my smokes!” – that remind you behind all the gore is a nerdy guy laughing his ass off at the whole mess.
My only legitimate criticism of the film is that no one carries a bindle. SERIOUSLY? A hobo-based motion picture with no bindles? Sigh. At least there is a shopping cart full of guts, that takes the edge off a little bit.