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Sundance review: ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ and ‘Legend of Beaver Dam’ grotesquely violent, disturbingly funny

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Max Dahl

PARK CITY–The long-awaited Hobo with a Shotgun trailer-turned-movie, featured in 2007’s Grindhouse, premiered at Sundance Film Festival this season. This exploitation/slasher film was proceeded by the short film The Legend of Beaver Dam.

The Legend of Beaver Dam was an explicit narrative of a group of Pathfinders on a camp-out. The overtly nasty leader leads in mocking the nerdy Danny Zigwits in a fireside ghost-story and song. Akin to “bloody Mary” or “Beatlejuice” repetition, the Patherfinder leader finds that instead of kumbayas echoing back, the specter of Stumpy Sam arrives and makes good on his fame.

Blood squirts, metal elicits from the bowels of Stumpy Sam, and it is up to Danny to save the Pathfinders and ultimately get the girl. A grotesque and disturbingly humorous slasher opus with “Glee”-like prepubescent songs from the entire cast, the short was met by equally violent applause.

Hobo with a Shotgun is an exploitation horror film set in the antithetical setting of Hope Town; “Satanic Dystopia” is the apt description found graffitied in the opening shots of the film. Ruled by the fear-mongering authoritarian known as “The Drake” and his budding agents of chaos, sons Slick and Ivan, the corrupt town is full of visual obscenity and exploitation of humanity.

The opening scene depicts Drake renouncing his brother, and decapitating him in the streets by means of a manhole collar and barbed wire noose. Drugs, sex, prostitution, violence – definitely violence – and overall rotten behavior are all exploited to their most shocking degree, as are ironic humor and gag-lines.

A transient hops off a rolling rail and witnesses a series of traumatic events; The Drake and his sons, “severing” their relationship with an uncle and brother, a pedophile Santa, innocent citizens being terrorizing, tortured, mangled and drug pedaling by Slick. He finally steps in before our heroine Abby (the lovable prostitute) is snuffed out. Our hobo makes a citizen’s arrest of Slick, which makes enemies with The Drake and the corrupt police force.

The farce-driven premise of wanting a lawnmower from a pawn shop suddenly changes when a group of bandits hold the owner, a customer, and her infant child at gunpoint. A shotgun is placed just above the lawnmower, and is conveniently the same price. Our hero takes action, massacring the thieves, saving the lives of the innocent, and putting down his money for the gun that will rock Hope Town.

Headlines read “Hobo stops begging, demands change,” “Parents smile as bodies pile,” and “Hobo delivers justice one shell at a time” as the hobo begins to stop minor offenders.

Repeated run-ins with Abby prompts her skepticism, “You can’t solve all the world’s problems with a shotgun!”

“It’s all I know,” replies the hobo.

Tension crescendos as Slick attempts to prove to his father how ruthless and fearsome he can be. A hit is called for all homeless and citizens begin to play in the fear game. Ultimately “the Plague” is called in to finish the hobo (The duo responsible for the assassinations of Abe Lincoln, Joan of Arc and Jesus of Nazareth).

Horrifically graphic with elements of ironic humor, the absurd keeps the movie from becoming morbidly unwatchable.

“I’ve never alternated between laughing so hard and being disgusted as I have in this film,” said Matt Barlow to director Jason Eisner.

Actor Rutger Hauer maintained a sense of humanity as the hobo and served as the wild card at the screening, charging the stage with a shotgun prior to the lights dimming. He also acted as cinematographer as he hand recorded questions and dialog from Eisner and the audience. His added colorful commentary enhanced the fan experience.

“I want you to tell people not to go see this film,” said Hauer

Eisner plans on a March 25 release in Canada, and believes it will released shortly thereafter in the states. To see trailers and more info online:

The Legend of Beaver Dam: stumpysam.com

Hobo With a Shotgun: hobowithashotgun.com


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