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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 03.29.11] movie review thriller

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Year: 2011
Director: Jason Eisener
Writers: John Davies, Rob Cotterill, Jason Eisener
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

"... the lines between glorious violence and bad taste are not just blurred – they’re blown off the face of the universe."

Jason Eisener is a very unlikely darling of Canadian film. His career started as a bit of a joke when he and his friends turned collaborators John Davies (screenwriter) and Rob Cotterill (producer), threw together a fake trailer for a competition co-sponsored by SXSW Film Festival and the Alamo Drafthouse, for the release of Grindhouse. Eisener’s two minute trailer, cobbled together for $150, was all sorts of awesome and took home the grand prize and bragging rights. The crowd plea for a full length film started off as a bit of a joke but when announcements started coming about other Grindhouse fake trailers being made into feature films, a little movement started to get Hobo equal treatment.

And then Treevenge happened. When the short film (which, if you’ve never seen, you should be checking out before proceeding any further) won the audience award for best short film at Fantasia, it looked like a full length Hobo With a Shotgun film might not be too far of a stretch.


Which brings us to last week and the expansion of Eisener and Co.’s full length film to various cities across The Great White North. Toting Rutger Hauer in the titular role of the Hobo, this is exactly the kind of thing fans wanted when they originally saw the fake trailer. It’s over the top, violent and pulls out all the stops while consciously nodding at its Canadian roots.

The set-up has Hobo rolling into a town overrun by a big baddy called Drake. It’s a seedy, violent place where no one is safe from the far reaching hands of terror. A brutal opening sequence in which a guy (Robb Wells of “The Trailer Park Boys” fame) is dropped into a “glory hole” and decapitated while a woman bathes in the geyser of blood spewing from his now missing head, is only a taste of what Eisner has in store for a movie in which each scene is a test of one upmanship. They’re not all this visceral but the lines between glorious violence and bad taste are not just blurred – they’re blown off the face of the universe. What’s interesting is that Hobo With a Shotgun never feels depraved because it’s much too self aware to fall into the crack of self righteousness.

With an 80’s feel, complete with Wayfarers, bomber jackets and a score inspired by John Carpenter’s greatest works, Hobo With a Shotgun basks in its lewdness and wears it proudly. The kills are violent, the relationship between Hobo and his hooker friend/saviour Abby is much too sweet, and the blood and guts are plenty. What’s best is that Eisner and crew manage to make Abby a heroine we can cheer for in the span of a few minutes, something Zack Snyder couldn’t do in an entire film.

With odes to its fake trailer roots and the return of memorable lines (“I'm going to sleep in your bloody carcasses… tonight“), Hobo With a Shotgun isn’t for everyone and it’s not trying to be. It knows its audience well and plays to it. In parts it even feels as if Eisner watched the movie with a crowd and inserted additional seconds to allow for cheering; it elicits that sort of audience participation. It’s not socking or serious or trying to spread a message. It’s just good plain fun for those who like their movies violent, cheesy and a little rough around the edges.


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