It takes a special kind of person to make the film ‘Hobo with a Shotgun‘ and I am happy to say I got to listen to director Jason Eisner talk about his film over a Skype Q&A. Sure I had a mounting list of questions for him about what in God’s name was running through his head when he made this film, but I was quickly enlightened. During the audio only Q&A, there was a loud collection of sounds eminating from the director’s end of the skype call. He was watching ‘Babe 2: Pig in the City’. The imaginary dots were connected and I suddenly knew so much about this director and his film.
‘Hobo’ might as well have jumped from the textbook pages of 70’s grindhouse cinema. It is an exploitation film, and very much a tribute to that expressive time in film history. It was made for a particular type of audience and it delivers exactly what it promises. Much like its title, there are no subtleties or need for deep thought and contemplation. Should one character be armed with a lawnmower and another a gun, exploitative logic would assume that some one is going to lose an arm or have their head explode in a rather excessive way. If my memory serves me I think they actually showed both scenarios with a loving touch only a horror fanatic could provide.
The color processing throughout the film is over-saturated and full of unnatural neons. Almost every shot is with a wide angle and I could feel the sickening vertigo as the titular hero arrives in a town he should never have stopped in. ‘Hobo’ starts off as nod to those peculiar 70’s films featuring a stranger getting off a train. Rutgar Hauer arrives in town with nothing but the cloths on his back. He is trying to start his life again believing that by some how obtaining a pawn shop lawn mower, it will give him back some sense of humanity. It is by far one of the stranger MacGuffins I’ve seen in a film and one that of course becomes a weapon later on. He quickly discovers that this strange town on the wrong side of the tracks is run by a ruthless crime guy named ‘The Drake’ (honestly they never really explain what he is so he is just a crime guy). To add to his menace he is also shadowed by his equally ruthless sons dressed as Tom Cruise rejects from ‘Risky Business’. They basically own the town, raping as they please and killing people in some surprisingly clever ways. As far as the story, the tagline and title pretty much sum it up in a nice little package.
While it appears that I am giving this film a positive review, that is not the full story. I put myself in the shoes of a cult film fanatic and hope that this peculiar slice of celluloid will find its home on a circuit of midnight film screenings. Given enough booze, drugs and good company this is a film that will make you laugh and shout silly things at the screen.
The director told us that Rutgar Hauer was always his first choice of actor. Some how a script made its way to Hauer and against his agent’s wishes, he took the role. There are more than a few moments where I cannot help but wonder if the actors said their lines and spent the next few days wondering what the hell they had just spoken to the camera. My suspicion is that Hauer knows the secret to watching movies; quietly love the bad ones so you know when you have seen a good one.