I wonder if you, like me, saw the original Hobo With A Shotgun entry into the faux-exploitation trailer contest in anticipation of 2007's Grindhouse and declared the competition to be over before it started? From the sublimely evocative concept to the vivid yet gritty circus of violence (not to mention David Brunt's honest and bona fide performance), the trailer is a two-minute eye-ball massage for the twisted film-lover at heart. While the other eventual finalist trailers were well executed, they sometimes betrayed their superiority-complex to the genre outright, imbuing their work with a 'Hey-guys-the-70's-weren't-as-crazy-as-us!' cleverness. Hobo, honest to god, felt like not a winking genre satire, but a genuine advertisement for some lost, embittered masterwork from the period uploaded onto some stinky hermit's YouTube channel from hell. Needless to say, Eisener and co. won the competition.
And now the faux-trailer-that-felt-like-a-real-one is now a feature film with a real trailer to go with it! It begins with star, Rutger Hauer (taking over for Mr. Brunt,) delivering a prophecy to new-born infants: If they grow up "here" - the grotesque urban crime environment the trailer portrays - they will eventually become any one of the dope-fiends, dope-whores, skimps, scamps and scallywags that thrive in this type of ecosystem. If they are successful, they'll "make money selling junk to crackheads" ... or they will "end up like me," Mr. Hauer, as the titular Hobo, says, " a hobo with a shotgun!"
As in the original trailer, we get the jist that this hobo is as mad as hell and is not going to take it any more, but this new piece focuses more on the milieu of the story, introducing the various factions and rancid moral paradigms that the hobo, one imagines, will have to do battle with. Shots of Mr. Hauer with his shotgun are sparse, while in the original trailer, Mr. Brunt featured in almost every scene (if you can call them those in trailers.) If the original trailer portrayed one man's self-actualization courtesy of a hand-cannon, the feature-film trailer indicates that the odds are stacked against the hobo and leaves one with an over-riding question for the entire film: what good can one man do when faced against the undomesticated, sociopathic progeny of The Warriors, The Terminator, Mad Max and innumerable other cinematic ancestors?
The actual details of the violence in the red-band trailer have to be seen to be believed, but I would like to stress that there are many things in the trailer worth looking at because the style is bold, the situations are fresh and the execution is impeccable. Compositions are eye-catching in their energetic angles and bright colour-blocking. Some shots even have an unnerving beauty to them. The killings in the film and the gloppy bloodiness of them work in tandem to elevate the violence overall to cartoonish glories.
If the original Hobo trailer looked like it time-traveled from a different era, the new Hobo trailer looks very of-the-moment. It's sharply photographed, Mr. Hauer is old now and the amounts of blood and audacity of style resemble films of recent memory like Punisher: War Zone, Rambo, this month's Piranha 3D and the Kill Bills. These films (with exception to the Kill Bills) are slight box office hits at best, but do have their dedicated fans. They are emblematic of a new seed in exploitation, where violence is in sharp, unblinking focus, but it is kinetic energy, unmitigated glee, the sheer hell-of-it fun of putting something shocking on film that is being fetishized. In fact, Rambo, is one-of-these-things-that's-not-like-the-others in this group precisely because its so damn morose, but its mind-boggling imagination for ways to spew blood keeps it in the league today's exploitation.
('Today's exploitation' sounds like the title of a Discover Channel or Natural Geographic Channel program I would never want to see, by the way.)
I enjoy these kinds of movies (save for Rambo) because I get a vibe that people enjoy making them, or, failing that, certainly the people I see them with enjoy watching them. If there is one thing about these movies that is rare in cinema in general it is a confidence of personality. These movies know what they are, and are happy to fulfill your expectations of them. This is the sense I get from the new Hobo trailer; that it is obliging us - and then some - our hopes and dreams of what we want a Hobo with a Shotgun feature film to be. It is not exactly the throwback the original trailer set us up for (though, who among us would've complained if it was?), but a this-minute exploitation exercise. The trailer leaves the expectation that Hobo will take its rightful place among its brethren of its genre.
The new Hobo: