SXSW FILM 2011
By Dave Campbell | April 14, 2011
Director: Jason Eisener
Writers: Jason Eisener, John Davies, Rob Cotterill
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Nick Bateman
Riding into town on an open freight car train (as all Hobos do), we meet our shotgun-less Hobo (Rutger Hauer) as he approaches a new town and a new beginning. Our nameless Hobo jumps from the freight car to explore his new city, hoping for better opportunity. But what he soon realizes is that he landed in a psychopath controlled urban nightmare. This city isn’t bound by justice or the law, but rather a criminal kingpin named Drake (Brian Downey) who terrorizes the good and weak with his viciously evil sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith).
At first the Hobo just wants to stay off of the radar. He dreams of starting his clean new life as he gazes at a used lawn mower in a pawn shop window. This daydream quickly ends as he comes face-to-face with the chaos of the city. Hobo decides that he in’t going to take this shit anymore and grabs a shotgun from the pawn shop wall. We now have our title character complete as a “Hobo with a Shotgun” who takes it upon himself to be a one-man wrecking crew of street justice — a buckshot vigilante if you will. Let the blood, violence and lead poisoning commence…
Remember all the faux trailers that played in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse: Planet Terror and Death Proof ? You may recall that one of them finally became the full length feature Machete. Well, director Jason Eisener submitted a faux trailer of Hobo with a Shotgun which won a fan contest that was held by SXSW and Robert Rodriguez. Needless to say with the strong support of fans, Eisener’s Hobo feature was made and premiered at Sundance 2011 and SXSW FILM 2011.
I totally get that Hobo with a Shotgun is a throwback parody of the gritty Grindhouse genre films, but that doesn’t mean that it should be unwatchable. I do believe that the filmmakers nailed what they were going for, however, it gave transparency to their inexperience and really just felt like a really bad “TROMA” film I would have watched in high school while getting lit. Hobo does maintain a solid cohesive style and edge from start to finish, and it’s apparent that director Jason Eisener has enormous ambition. That being said, it will be interesting to see if he grows at all as a filmmaker in his sophomore effort.
Hobo is chock full of two-dimensional characters, most notably the villains. To me, good villains always have some kind of likable quality to pull you in, but Drake, Ivan and Slick made me want to gouge my eyes and ears with the Alamo Drafthouse ordering pens. Both the characters and the actor’s presence were just ugly. For the most part, the dialogue in Hobo is a lot of throw away filler surrounding countless “trailer” worthy one-liners.
The main credibility Hobo has is the Hobo himself, Rutger Hauer. Surprisingly among the muck, Hauer pulls out a pretty decent performance in an otherwise amateurish environment. Hobo actually worked for me back when it was just a two minute trailer. I got the joke and was completely entertained. Hell, it probably would have held up OK as a short film too, but as a full length feature the film is a poorly made imitation exploitation abomination.
Wait…this got into Sundance?!?