Movie Review – Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Director: Jason Eisner

Stars: Rutger Hauer, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, Molly Dunsworth, Jeremy Akerman

A hobo (Hauer) rides the rails into a new town and, after witnessing violent acts he takes it upon himself to rid the town of its disease.

Made as a homage to grindhouse movies, the film starts of stylishly and the color palette was a lot brighter than I imagined it would be. That’s about the only good thing I can say about Hobo with a Shotgun. I wanted to like it because I like over the top violence and the premise of a lone stranger cleaning up a town, but it just doesn’t work here. I know a lot of people will defend this film and will say that I’m taking it too seriously, but even though it’s a tribute to cheap, low-budget movies that doesn’t give it an excuse to be terrible.

There’s no real plot, no compelling characters, the acting is completely over the top which drains the film of any nuance and the violence doesn’t have any impact, it’s just gore for the sake of gore. It’s kinda cool to begin with but then it just gets repetitive. The dialogue is awful too and it’s a shame because I think there was a decent film in there and with a little more thought it could have been a good satire.

The thing is, I’m sure the people who worked on the grindhouse movies didn’t intend to make bad films. They were probably working on low budgets and tight deadlines and they did the best with what they had. The people involved in Hobo with a Shotgun made creative decisions that ensure it was of a low quality. Just because you want to make a tribute to cheesy B-movies doesn’t mean that your movie has to be devoid of quality, and it’s a lazy cop out to give this film any sort of slack.

There’s no attempt at a cohesive narrative and it shows. It feels lazy, and like the filmmakers didn’t even try to put energy into it. I get the impression that the people in charge of the film thought that saying it was a tribute to bad movies would give the film a free pass and make people overlook its shortcomings but a bad movie is a bad movie and this doesn’t have a sense of earnestness that some bad movies have. It feels like a cynical ploy to exploit people’s nostalgia and there’s no heart or soul. It’s an empty, hollow film with absolutely nothing to offer. Very disappointing.

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