A hobo arrives by boxcar in Hope Town, its welcome sign repainted to read "Scum Town". The town is ruled by "The Drake" and his sadistic sons Ivan and Slick with Crimes against humanity. The Hobo sees an amateur film maker shooting a "Bumfight" movie. A bloodied man screams for help. Two cars approach him, revealing The Drake and his sons. The man is Logan, The Drake's younger brother. The Drake explains to the townspeople that his brother is a traitor, then publicly decapitates him with a barbed-wire noose.
The Hobo sees a lawnmower in a pawn shop. Wishing to buy it, he begs for change on a sidewalk. He sees a group of punks drag a homeless man into The Drake's night club. Ivan and Slick enter the building and The Hobo follows them in. Inside, the brothers and their henchmen torture and kill homeless people in arcade-style games. Slick begins harassing a boy named Otis, who owes him money. A prostitute named Abby attempts to intervene, angering Slick. Ivan snaps Otis' arm. Slick then propositions the hooker, takes her outside, and prepares to kill her. The Hobo intervenes, knocks Slick unconscious, and carries him to the police station.
At the station, he learns of the police chief's corruption and complicity in criminal activities. He and his deputies hate hobos. Ivan and Slick join the chief to rough up The Hobo, carve the word "scum" into his chest, and throw him into a garbage bin. He stumbles out and meets Abby, who takes him to her apartment and tends to his wounds. The next day, The Hobo goes to the amateur filmmaker seen earlier to make money. Upon completing a series of degrading acts, including chewing glass, he earns enough money to purchase the lawnmower. At the pawnshop, a trio of robbers enter and take a woman and her baby hostage. The Hobo grabs a shotgun from the shelf and kills the robbers. Realizing that Hope Town needs justice, he buys the shotgun, which costs the same as the lawnmower, and kills dozens of criminals, including the filmmaker, a pimp, a coke lord, and a pedophile dressed as Santa Claus.
The Drake, infuriated, sets loose Ivan and Slick. The two burn a school bus filled with children to terrorize the town, because the kids are friendly with hobos. Next they burst into a television studio during a live news broadcast, kill the anchorman who had expressed his appreciation of the hobo, and demand that all homeless people be killed. The Drake then joins them and orders The Hobo be brought to him. The town is plunged into anarchy as a mass murder of the town's vagrants begins.
As Abby is walking home, a cop attempts to rape her, but The Hobo kills him. The gunshots alert a nearby group, who rush to investigate. Abby smuggles The Hobo past them in a shopping cart covered with the dead cop's remains. The pair are spotted by Otis, who informs Slick and Ivan. Back at her apartment, The Hobo tells Abby of his plan to start a lawnmowing business, which she enthusiastically supports. Ivan and Slick enter the apartment and attack the two, wounding Abby. The Hobo overpowers Slick, holds him at gunpoint, and forces Ivan to leave. The Hobo then shoots Slick in the groin and takes Abby to the hospital. Slick manages to call The Drake before he is dragged to hell in a burning school bus. The Drake, mourning the death of his favorite son, resolves to take The Hobo down. He summons "The Plague", a duo of armor-clad demons named Rip and Grinder. While Abby is recovering, The Hobo visits the maternity ward and delivers a monologue to the babies. When he returns to Abby's room, The Plague capture and deliver him to The Drake, who plans to publicly execute him.
Having recovered, Abby returns to the pawn shop for weapons. She attaches an axe to The Hobo's shotgun and turns the lawnmower into a shield. She then rallies a crowd to free The Hobo and bring down The Drake. Abby holds Ivan hostage and confronts The Drake. However, he shoots his son and denounces him as a disappointment. In the ensuing fight, Abby manages to kill Grinder. The Drake then severs her hand with the lawnmower shield, but she stabs him repeatedly with her exposed arm bone, incapacitating him. Rip tries to persuade Abby to replace Grinder as his partner, but The Hobo drives him off.
The Hobo spots The Drake crawling away to safety and prepares to execute him but is interrupted by the police; a standoff ensues as the townspeople, motivated by Abby, arrive armed and ready to back up the hobo. Not wishing to let innocent people die for him,and knowing The Drake must die for the town to heal, The Hobo ends the stalemate by shooting off The Drakes head. As he is gunned down by the police, Abby screams and the townspeople respond by shooting and killing the police...The Drake's rule is over.
(In an extended ending that was cut from the final film, Abby's hand is replaced by several shotguns, and she becomes part of The Plague.)
Rutger Hauer as the Hobo: a homeless man who becomes a vigilante after witnessing the high crime rate and corrupt, ineffective police.
Molly Dunsworth as Abby: a local prostitute who befriends the Hobo, she became at first horrified by his actions then after watching his bravery decides to help him.
Brian Downey as The Drake: A ruthless, psychopathic crime lord of Hope Town, the father of Ivan and Slick.
Gregory Smith as Slick: Drake's favorite son and Ivan's brother. Slick is a highly remorseless, sadistic, and cold killer. His father prefers him over Ivan due to his leadership skills.
Nick Bateman as Ivan: Drake's son and Slick's equally sadistic brother.
Nick Bateman and Peter Simas as The Plague, (Rip and Grinder): two armored demons who seem to be contract killers with a hit list of historical and Biblical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ.
Robb Wells as Logan, Drake's brother and a traitor for hobos
Jeremy Akerman as the Chief of Police
David Brunt as a corrupt police officer
Pasha Ebrahimi as the "Bum Fight" filmmaker
Michael Ray Fox as a doctor (uncredited)
George Stroumboulopoulos as the News Anchor
Hobo with a Shotgun, directed by Jason Eisener, was initially a fake trailer made for an international contest to promote the release of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's double feature Grindhouse. It won the contest, and was screened in some areas of Canada as part of the actual release of Grindhouse. A feature-length version of Hobo With a Shotgun began principal photography in Halifax on April 19, 2010.
A teaser trailer (including behind-the-scenes and test footage) was released on April 26, 2010. David Brunt, who played the homeless man in the trailer, cameos in the film as a cop. It was the second of Grindhouse's fake trailers to be turned into a feature film, the first being Machete. (Machete was also followed by a sequel, Machete Kills.)
The opening theme music was borrowed from the exploitation film Mark of the Devil".
Hobo with a Shotgun staged its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The film was released on a limited basis to Canadian theatres on March 25, 2011 and in the United States on May 6, 2011. The film was also released via OnDemand services such as Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and iTunes on April 1, 2011.
The film received its Australian premiere on the opening night of the Sydney Film Festival on 8 June 2011. It was later released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United States on July 5, 2011 and in the UK on July 15, 2011.
Reviews of the film are generally positive, and it currently holds a 65% "certified fresh" approval rating out of 112 reviews on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 5.7 out of 10 with the consensus being, "It certainly isn't subtle – or even terribly smart – but as a gleefully gory homage to low-budget exploitation thrillers, Hobo with a Shotgun packs plenty of firepower."