Review: Hobo With A Shotgun (2011)

Hobo With A Shotgun is a feature-length adaptation of the highly successful fake trailer made for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’ Grindhouse, and stars Rutger Hauer, Pasha Ebrahimi, Robb Wells and Molly Dunsworth.

The film centres on a homeless vigilante, Hobo (Hauer), who finds himself trapped in urban chaos. He is surrounded by armed robbers, corrupt cops and even a paedophile Santa. Hobo decides to bring about justice the best way he knows how – with his trusty pump-action shotgun.

Screenwriter John Davies litters the film with throwbacks to 1970′s horror, while conserving a gleeful level of originality and satirical humour into the oft-told one-against-the-world tale. It does wonders to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, and thoroughly entertained throughout. While the premise is a tad sketchy, the scenarios that derive from it – murderous dodgems, a torturous pinata, and the aforementioned unorthodox Santa – certainly aren’t.

Jason Eisener, who opts for practical effects over digital CGI, manages to balance a realistic feel with over-the-top, cartoonish, and incredibly gory violence. He indulges in frenetic cinematography, glorified lighting and a stomping soundtrack to boot, all in keeping with the exploitation genre and the films to which he is paying homage.

The choice to recast Hauer as the Hobo was one of utter genius, and he plays it with effectively straight assurance, keeping the film grounded amidst the hysteria. The supporting cast, a smorgasbord of unknowns and ex-TV stars, helps further to instil and sustain the feel of an authentic exploitation flick – something that previous studios’ efforts have failed to capitalise on.

Dunsworth – a prostitute and Hobo’s unimaginable foil, Abby – stands out amongst the supporting cast. She does tremendously well with a severely underwritten character, providing a brilliant antithesis to Hobo’s ruthlessness. They have a sizzling chemistry on-screen, and a subversive, darkly amusing rapport that feels extremely gratifying.

It’s clear Eisener has an eye for the schlock genre and, by letting his imagination run wild, Hobo With A Shotgun emerges as a sure-to-be perennial, shockingly violent and wonderfully clever yet purposely screwball modern-day vigilante thriller. It’s “bloody” terrific fun.

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Review: The Rite (2011)

Loosely based on Matt Baglio’s novel The Rite: The Making of a Modern Excorcist, The Rite traces the experiences of Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), a young seminary student who discovers the true powers of faith when he’s drafted into the Vatican’s Exorcism School and confronted by the forces of darkness.

Mikael Håfström’s direction is competent, and makes full use of the wonderful city of Rome, but never breaks free from its bleak, by-the-numbers nature.

The script, by Michael Pertroni, is predictable, starting off placid and, aside from picking up slightly when Father Matthew enters, ends in a rushed, disappointing manner, one that predominantly sticks to the thoroughly-mined themes of previous exorcism-orientated horror films.

Fortunately, even with the film falling apart at the seams, Hopkins stays on form, continually shining. He plays Father Lucas as a smooth and effortlessly witty priest, in the vein of Hannibal Lector. Everything he does is interesting to watch, and somehow makes you believe you’re watching a very different, more compelling film.

It’s a shame, then, that the film continually pulls focus back to Kovak. While intriguing, O’Donoghue doesn’t have the zealous nature to hold audiences attention, and Kovak suffers for it, never achieving the powerful stance required, often coming across as plain boring.

The supporting cast, including turns from Ciarán Hinds, Alice Braga and Rutger Hauer, populate the background to great avail, delivering compelling performances in their shamefully limited roles.

The Rite, despite a solid turn from Hopkins, is ultimately a strained, predictable and largely irrelevant addition to the exorcism sub-genre.