Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)
So I finally saw this movie, an expansion of the Halifax made trailer which won the Grindhouse trailer contest. And frankly it's kinda hard to review seeing as I know a few people who were involved and even though I haven't lived there in three years, I'm still totally in love with Halifax. But fuckit, I'll do it anyway.
The film tells the story of a Hobo (Rutger Hauer) who travels the rails and winds up in Hope Town, a wretched hive of scum and villainy ruled by a sadistic maniac (Brian Downey in probably the most insane performance I've seen from anybody in a long time) and his two equally horrible sons (Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman). Appalled by the depravity present in the city, the Hobo buys a shotgun and teams up with a kind hearted hooker (Molly Dunsworth) to start cleaning up the streets.
It's done in vintage, exploitation-era style, and actually goes all the way with that, from the old school credit sequence, to the intense use of colour, to the oh so cheesey dialogue. And one thing that really stood out for me - nobody has a god damn cell phone. One of the things that really pissed me off in both Death Proof and Planet Terror, both emulations of old school drive in grindhouse flicks, was that everything was going along as per normal, and then somebody whips out their blackberry and starts texting or whatever. Fuck off.
ALSO, both of those films had a super huge budget and, while Hobo was probably made for more money than most splatter films of the sixties and seventies, it wasn't extremely high budget by today's standards and it totally uses that to its advantage.
The movie is packed with over the top violence and gore which is way too cartoony to be disturbing or moving, it's just funny more than anything - a guy gets squished by a backhoe shovel in an explosion of red goo, another dude gets his dink blown off (HAHAHAHAHAHA), lots of dudes get their heads exploded. Everything is more gross than shocking, and sometimes totally unbelievable, like somebody getting their hand cut off with a lawnmower. Seriously? Every lawnmover I've ever used got stuck and stalled out when I came across a thick clump of grass or a twig, I can't imagine they would be able to cut through bone. Then again, Dead/Alive had a guy wasting a house full of zombies with a lawnmower so I guess if we're going by movie logic, losing a hand to a lawnmower blade is well within the realm of plausibility.
There are a couple of scenes which are genuinely shocking, notably a girl almost getting decapitated with a skill saw which was realistic enough to be unsettling, and a school bus full of children getting incinerated which actually managed to push the envelope in a genre where virtually everything has been done.
There are a few qualms I had with the film. First and most important being The Plague, a pair of (I guess) robots who show up about seventy minutes into the movie without any real explanation of who or what they are or even where the fuck they came from (they were sort of hinted at briefly early on but not substantially). General rule of thumb - don't introduce new characters more than an hour into the film unless you really have to. Yeah, The Plague was cool but sort of unneccessary - there was no reason another already established character couldn't have filled that role.
Secondly, the acting was, for the most part, really... not good. And not in an intentional, corny sort of way, like how the writing was intentionally (and hilariously) bad ("I'm gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses - tonight!", "put the knife away or I'll use it to cut welfare cheques from your skin" and "get your hands off me, you're crushing my smokes" are some of the best worst lines I've ever heard in a movie). It was just straight up bad and amateur, which is too bad seeing as there are some really good actors in Halifax.
That being said, Rutger Hauer was really good as the Hobo. He was very convincing, from the nonsensical mumbling to the slightly confused look on his face (I hope that was acting), I truly believed that he was, in fact, a hobo. Molly Dunsworth also stood out as being very convincing and sympathetic - I totally bought that her character had no other options than to become a prostitute - and unlike most female characters in this kind of movie, she kicks a tremendous amount of ass at the end.
So to conclude, Hobo isn't the greatest movie ever made, and if you like flicks about middle aged women taking Valium for three hours, stay the fuck away. But if you're into unmitigated violence and mindless entertainment then this is definitely worth the cost of the rental.
Directed by: Jason Eisener. Written by: John Davies. Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, Jeremy Akerman