Movie Review: Hobo with a Shotgun

By Stephen Rebello

Rutger Hauer plays a rail-riding hobo in this salute to 1970s grindhouse.

Director: Jason Eisener Rating: R Studio: Rhombus Media

Sporting the coolest title of any movie so far this year, Hobo with A Shotgun is a down and dirty, hyper-violent, fully demented, all-severed-heads-and-limbs salute to 1970s grindhouse and drive-in vigilante exploitation movies.

A snicker feast for irony-junkies and hipsters who are barely there (or never there in the first place), the movie written and directed by Jason Eisener is about a rail-riding hobo who finds himself in an economy-blighted American city riddled by crime, corruption and mayhem run by a ridiculous, scummy white-suited crime lord (Brian Downey), who calls himself The Drake, not to be confused with The Donald. Muscled-up by his two moronic and vicious sons, enjoyably played by Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith as lowlifes who’ve seen too many movies starring John Cusack and Tom Cruise, the low-rent crime family raises the ire of the hobo when he tries to come to the aid of a young prostitute (Molly Dunsworth). What ensues is a series of increasingly sick, twisted, very knowing set pieces straight out of the splatter cinema hall of fame. Tthey’re fun, all right, but the “Whoa, check out how gross we can be” attitude eventually gets old.

What sells the movie, though, is Rutger Hauer’s strong, growly performance as the hobo; in on the joke, he never winks nor coddles the audience. Although the movie was launched after its fake trailer appeared in Grindhouse, Hauer’s performance would throw a wringer into the wink-wink Seventies homage universe of Tarantino. Playing it straight, Hauer brings out the movie’s underlying comments on both the country’s frantic race to the bottom as well as to our longing for a true hero. With Hauer in the grindhouse, the color-saturated Hobo with a Shotgun is nutball, righteous good times.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2011. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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