"I used to be like you, a long time ago. All brand new and perfect; no mistakes, no regrets. People look at you and think of how wonderful your future will be. They want you to be something special, like a doctor or a lawyer. I hate to tell you this, but if you grow up here, you're more likely to wind up selling your bodies on the streets or shooting dope from dirty needles in a bus stop. And if you're successful, you'll make money selling junk to crackheads, and won't think twice about killing someone's wife, because you won't even know it's wrong in the first place. Maybe… you'll end up like me. A hobo with a shotgun. I hope you can do better. You are the future."
— The Hobo, to a group of newborn babies
The 2011 film Hobo With A Shotgun started out as a fake movie trailer in Grindhouse, but thanks to independent filmmakers from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it became the second Grindhouse trailer (after Machete) to get converted into a full film.An elderly, nameless hobo (Rutger Hauer) arrives in the city of Hope Town, a run-down dystopian sprawl. The Hobo only wants to eke out a humble life in the city, but thanks to The Drake (the depraved crime boss who controls the city), urban decay runs rampant and violence has become a way of life. Tension builds as The Hobo tries to co-exist with the city-wide corruption, but when circumstances push him over the edge, he picks up a twelve-gauge and delivers bloody justice to the city's criminals.The film's is a broad and grotesque pastiche of the Vigilante Justice sub-genre of exploitation cinema (represented by films such as Death Wish), with some surprisingly subtle flourishes mixed into the outlandish mayhem.
Hobo with a Shotgun contains examples of the following tropes:
Abnormal Ammo: One of the members of the Plague, Grinder, carries a spear gun that fires a short spear up into the ceiling, pulling along a short rope tied around any of their unfortunate victims' necks that quickly strangles them to death, essentially being a "gallows gun".
The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Slick, who gleefully maims a kid who owes him money, but then shoves the poor kid's face into a pile of cocaine. That Slick would casually wander around with such a big pile of cocaine is, of course, yet another of the over-the-top touches that make this film what it is.
Alas, Poor Villain: Slick gets a surprisingly emotional send-off when he calls his father begging for help, and they end up comforting each other before he dies.
Awesome but Impractical: Grinder uses a harpoon gun as a weapon, which, given the outstanding amount of guns available in the market, would be quite an impractical choice in itself. As an added bonus, he doesn't actually stick the harpoon into people, and prefers to use it to hang them.
Awesome yet Practical: The eponymous shotgun, which Abbey later turns into a sawn-off with a lawnmower blade for a stock.
Badass: The Hobo. Abbey becomes one of these too, by the end.
Bittersweet Ending: Hobo gives his life to kill Drake and ensure that the citizens who have come to his aid fire the first shots on the corrupt police force. Abby is alive but has lost a hand and spends the end of the film hysterically screaming, and the remaining Plague member claims she'll be a member of them soon. The town may live or die in the ensuing violence, but either way the tyranny of Drake's crime family has ended.
Blasphemous Boast: Drake claims to know more about suffering than God, because when God's son died, He came back after a few days. The Hobo's response:
You're a shitty father.
Blood Bath: One of Drake's groupies showers in the spray of blood from a decapitated neck, while writhing ecstatically.
Bottomless Magazines: We never see the Hobo buy any shells, yet he never seems to run out. We do see him reload... once.
Bus Full of Innocents: Slick torches a bus full of elementary school children with a flame thrower as a way of declaring war on the Hobo. Then brings the charred skeleton of one of them onto the evening news to make the declaration directly.Moral Event Horizon, guys.
Combat Pragmatist: As a person who is forced to make do with whatever he can find every day, Hobo has a talent for this. He wields his own walking stick as an effective bludgeon, weaponizes his savings in a sock and incapacitates Ivan by electrocuting him with a toaster.
Harpoon Gun: Rip's choice of weapon, used to great effect when they storm the hospital.
Hidden Depths: When Slick is bleeding to death, he calls the Drake, (who normally treats him like a favorite employee rather than a son) and the two say heartfelt goodbyes in a shockingly human moment for both of them.
Humanoid Abomination: The Plague are strongly implied to be demons, and even when one of them is being vivisected by a lawnmower, we still never see anything besides his armor. They don't even have red blood.
Improbable Weapon User: Ivan uses ice skates as both a thrown weapon and attached to his feet for kicking. Yes, it's a Canadian film all right.
Improvised Weapon: Abby uses her arm bone against Drake, after her hand is shredded off.
Infant Immortality: Zigzagged through the film: the Hobo manages to save the crying baby in the Pawn Shop holdup, but the children in the film usually get set on fire, as the anti-homeless rioters set a homeless mom and her baby on fire, and Slick torching a bus of children after they declare their support for the hobo.
Karma Houdini: By the end, Rip has walked away without paying for any of the gruesome murders he's perpetrated. It's even worse in the Alternate Ending, where Abby is turned into the promised replacement.
Large Ham: Drake's loud, insane, theatrical style of speech qualifies him as this.
Legacy Character: In the end, it's revealed that you have to replace a member of the Plague if you kill him. This explains how the Plague seems responsible for taking out historical personalities like Lincoln and Jesus.
Narm: Like all good grindhouse tributes, this is invoked. The hobo often goes on nonsensical ice cream koans, dramatic scenes have bizarre, overwrought, terrible dialogue, and... interesting faces are made during ridiculously implausible situations.
"I'm gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses TONIGHT!"'
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Actually not very common in the movie, but used to great effect in the finale.
Psycho for Hire: The Plague, a pair of contract killers who encase themselves in metal armor, live in a castle and have some sort of giant tentacle monster as a pet. They also apparently killed Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Charles Darwin, and Jesus.
Psycho Supporter: Drake has a gang of groupies who run around in bikinis and enjoy violence just as much as he does. One girl dances in the Rain of Blood caused by Drake's execution of his brother, and later, they cheerfully beat on a human pinata Drake was holding prisoner.
Recycled Soundtrack: The opening credits music, "Liebesthema", was used forty years earlier as the theme to the movie Mark of the Devil, and the end credits music, "Run With Us", was first used as the theme to the cartoon The Raccoons.
Title Drop: "Maybe you'll end up like me, a hobo with a shotgun. Maybe you'll do better."
Took a Level in Badass: Abby, who singlehandedly kills Grinder and nearly puts the Big Bad down for the count, and saves the hobo just before he's decapitated... with her goddamn forearm bone.
Tragic Hero: Hobo lives an incredibly harsh life and is cruelly abused by society, despite being a genuinely kind and responsible man. His just yet deranged bouts of vigilante justice are heavily implied to be a result of Alzheimers, and he makes the ultimate sacrifice in the name of justice and protecting those he cares for.
The Unfavorite: Ivan just doesn't measure up to Slick even when he's the only one left, and he gets executed by his father for it, unwittingly getting the Hobo a short reprieve.
Would Hurt a Child: One of the pawnshop robbers is ready to shoot a baby and one of the hobo-killing townsfolk throws a molotov into a dumpster where a homeless child is living. But Slick takes the cake when heburns a busload. He then threatens to wipe out every child in the city if the Hobo isn't killed.
Wretched Hive: Hopetown is an impossibly violent and depraved place.
You Kill It, You Bought It: After Abby kills Grinder, Rip says she has to take his place. The Hobo tells him he won't be doing that, and he walks off without a word. However, in the alternate ending, she's converted into Grinder's replacement.