Welcome To Scum Town: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN Review

You pretty much know what you're in for when you go to see a film called Hobo With A Shotgun. Not only because it's all right there in the title, but because a film like that tends to skew towards a well-informed audience. So aside from the adventurous movie-goer, I don't see the title inspiring too many random walk-ins. And yet- as we filed into the press screening, an elderly woman inquired as to what we were about to see. "Hobo With A Shotgun," someone in line told her. Her response? "Oh, that sounds nice." So you never know.

Hobo has been rummaging through the garbage here at Twitch for over a year now, so awareness should be high. For those living under an internet rock, the firearm enthused transient of the film's title is played by none other than veteran actor Rutger Hauer. He rides the rails into a quaint little hamlet called Scum Town, where he hopes to make a new life for himself, despite the fact that the place is called Scum Town. Almost immediately he runs afoul of criminal overlord, The Drake, and his chuckle-headed sons, Slick and Ivan. The Drake is a demented version of Wayne Newton with a penchant for violence. His sons are part Risky Business era Tom Cruise, part mustacheless Freddy Mercury, and all stupid.

Rutger settles in and tries to lay low. He dreams of purchasing a pawnshop lawnmower and starting a landscaping business to literally "clean up" Scum Town. He meets a lovely young prostitute named Abby with a dream of her own- that of being a school teacher. But Scum Town isn't a place where dreams come true, not with The Drake and his boys terrorizing the good citizens. So Rutger does what any self-respecting hobo would do- forgo the lawnmower and buy a fucking shotgun!

Hobo will no doubt please its target audience of exploitation aficionados, as can be attested by the forceful guffaws of the viewer behind me. But not everyone at the screening was a fanboy, and his attempts to manufacture an atmosphere of collective experience was more distracting than anything. Personally, I found the film to be a little uneven. It hovers back and forth between "it's so bad it's good" and moments that are just plain bad. It is a well-made homage to poorly-made films that is on the whole very successful, but once in a while misses the mark, thereby more closely emulating the quality of its influence. The whole experience is very meta.

Then there are moments that transcend whatever else the film is trying to achieve. The "Bear" conversation between The Hobo and Abby is a little piece of brilliance that is part Quentin Tarantino, part Werner Herzog. This is thanks mostly to Hauer, who to his credit plays it completely straight. His performance not only gives the film its emotional center, it elevates it above your standard low budget schlock fest. It is a casting coup.

Everyone else is appropriately over the top, as is the action. One scene involving a flamethrower and a school bus full of children is particularly inspired. Then there's The Plague- a medieval duo straight out of Romero's Knightriders who have a pet octopus and are responsible for the deaths of everyone from Jesus to Abraham Lincoln. Still not sure what to make of that one.

All in all, Hobo is good, clean, gory fun. Not everything Eisner throws against the wall sticks, but luckily it's mostly entrails, so at least they slide down and go splat. It isn't as original as his killer Christmas tree short, Treevenge, but still manages to fill out its feature length runtime like a tight dress. The film has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a fake trailer for the movie Grindhouse, and is proof that independent filmmaking is still alive and kicking (and decapitating people.) I hope adventurous old ladies everywhere wander in to see it.

JOSHUA CHAPLINSKY

Joshua Chaplinsky also writes for ChuckPalahniuk.net. He was a guitarist in the band SpeedSpeedSpeed and is the poison pen behind thejamminjabber, although he's not so sure he should admit it.




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