There’s a simple way to determine whether or not you’ll like Hobo with a Shotgun. Did you enjoy 2007’s Grindhouse, particularly the Planet Terror aspect of it? If so, chances are good that you will like this film, which is based on one of the fake trailers that was attached to Grindhouse. By comparing it to Planet Terror, you probably already know what type of film it is. The two are very similar.
For those who haven’t seen Grindhouse or don’t know what Planet Terror is like, I’ll give you a brief description. This is a throwback to the exploitation films of eras past. You’re going to get a lot of blood, ridiculous over-the-top action scenes, implausible moments, odd camera angles, terrible acting, awful special effects, and a lot of other things that tip you off to the fact that the film wasn’t made with a lot of money. Of course, that means that the film looks absolutely atrocious, even if done intentionally. If you don’t like that, you’re not going to enjoy Hobo with a Shotgun.
As the title indicates, the plot revolves around a Hobo (Rutger Hauer) and his shotgun. He doesn’t have his weapon of choice right away, instead, rolling into a small town with no possessions whatsoever. He witnesses the execution of one of the Trailer Park Boys, finds out how corrupt the police force is, watches how terribly the prostitutes of the town are treated, sees a pedophile dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, and other things that one doesn’t want to revisit in their mind. Of course, he has to clean the town up.
Joining him on his cleaning-up-the-town mission is a prostitute he saves named Abby (Molly Dunsworth). She was about to be beaten, raped, or possibly even killed before he steps in. Of course, we’re going to use a cliché here, so she has to be a nice person who is also a teacher and prostitutes herself for … some reason. But she’s a nice person and, eventually, she and the Hobo decide that they’ll start a business together. A lawn cutting business, because that will pay the bills, right? There’s work in-town to do first, though.
There is no law in this town. It’s run by a man named Drake (Brian Downey), who has two sons named Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). They get to do whatever they want to anyone that they want to do it to. The opening kill scene of that one Trailer Park Boy actor is evidence enough of this. They also have bags full of super-cocaine, which they don’t mind giving away because … again, I don’t know why. They seem to have enough money, I suppose, but for people who rule with an iron fist, they seem awfully generous with their drugs.
Anyway, we get a lot of action scenes after the Hobo finally gets his shotgun. He rarely aims for the head, though, which surprised me. There are a lot more chest shots than one might expect, and while that allows for a lot of initial blood squirting and for intestines to make themselves visible, it doesn’t seem particularly efficient if he’s having to waste more ammo. There are a few creative kills every once in a while, but most of the time, as the title tells us, he just blasts people with his shotgun. Eventually this gets boring.
From the very first scene of Hobo with a Shotgun, you can tell what you’re in for. The contrast has been turned way up, and many of the scenes are shot with only a couple of colors. Whatever problems this town has, it doesn’t need to be painted. And then characters begin to speak, and you realize that the acting is going to be terrible. That might be intentional, and I mean no disservice to the actors, but all of them either gave an incredibly hammy or awkward performance. This fits with the Grindhouse-style aesthetic, and by the end, you’ll likely be enjoying the actors just because of how humorous they all seem.
There is a ton of gore in the film, and if that’s all you like seeing from this sort of production, you’ll probably be satisfied. However, I was surprised by how many long stretches where not much is going on there were. They’re infrequent, but when they pop up they’re really noticeable. I actually wanted to see more from the Hobo, but instead of shooting people, doing something more creative. Even two characters named “The Plague” (who purport to have killed Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, the Easter Bunny, among others, and who are seen fighting an octopus) use the same method of killing people three times in a row. It’s like the filmmakers ran out of ideas by the time it finished.
But the main question you want answered is “Is Hobo with a Shotgun fun?” My answer is a simple “yes.” I enjoyed it. But I really enjoyed Planet Terror, and if you didn’t, you should stay clear of this film, as it’s not even as good (if we can call it “good,” anyway) as Planet Terror. The feel of the film filled me with glee and I actually wanted it to go on for another 30 minutes or so by the time it was done just because of how much fun I was having.
Hobo with a Shotgun isn’t a good film, but it isn’t trying to be. It aimed to be terrible, look awful, feel dated, and so on. But that’s part of the fun with these kinds of films, and if you enjoy trashy, exploitation movies, you’ll probably like this one. Those of you who don’t, avoid it at all costs, as you won’t have a good time. You might want to head to Canada with a shotgun and shoot the people who made it. Take justice into your own hands.