Jason Eisener

One Last Dive

Why Watch? Because going underwater at night with the guy who made Hobo With a Shotgun sounds like a totally safe idea. Drowning in a rust-colored hell, Jason Eisener‘s short drags us down into the shallows on a search and rescue mission with a couple of WTF moments thrown in so we can’t catch our breath. The timing and suspense are inevitable, but Eisener toys with the design just enough to make it effectively scary beyond the pruney, crawling skin. Watch it below, and if you’re making you’re own 60-second short film, check out this competition.

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Editor’s note: This review of V/H/S/2 originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was going under the title S-VHS. We’re re-running it now as the film hits VOD and a limited theatrical roll-out this Friday. Reactions were understandably mixed to last year’s horror anthology film V/H/S, but there was enough of a positive response to encourage the team to move forward on a new incarnation. No, it’s not time for Laserdisc yet (maybe next year), but in its place we have the forgotten future of video tape…  S-VHS. In addition to changing out most of the writers/directors from the first film (only Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard remain) they’ve also, wisely, shortened the experience by sticking to four shorts (plus wraparound) instead of five. This time the “story” that brings the shorts together involves a pair of inept private eyes investigating the disappearance of a college student. They break into his ratty house and decide their investigation would be best served watching the unlabeled videotapes strewn about the living room. The four stories that follow are a mixed bag quality-wise, but thankfully there are none as bad as the “dumbasses in the woods” segment from the first movie. The concept remains that everything we see was filmed entirely on personal cams to give a POV sensation. If they do share a theme with each other it’s more laughs/fewer scares — which I gotta say is kind of odd for a so-called horror movie.

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Horror fans rejoiced at the prospect of V/H/S, a horror anthology film directed by several up-and-coming indie genre directors, centered around a band of criminals watching VHS recordings of terrible happenings. Even before V/H/S was released, the wheels already began to turn on the film’s sequel, V/H/S/2, which is currently playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. Much like it’s predecessor, V/H/S/2 is comprised of a framing device and four short films (compared to the original film’s five). Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), directed the film’s framing device, “Tape 49,” about a private investigator and his assistant breaking into a house and going through all those terrifying VHS tapes. Barrett also wrote the segment directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), “Phase 1 Clinical Trials,” in which Wingard starred as a rich boy whose bionic eye makes him see ghosts. Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project) directed “A Ride in the Park,” which is a largely comic chronicle of a biker’s metamorphosis into a zombie and the havoc that ensues after he is bitten. And Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) directed the self-explanatory “Alien Abduction Slumber Party,” recorded from the POV of a little dog attached to a camera. The film is rounded out by Gareth Evans’ and Timo Tjahjanto’s Lucio Fulci-inspired “Safe Haven,” about reporters to record the inner sanctum of a cult, which involves both zombies and monsters. I sat down with the rather chatty group of Barrett, Eisener, Sanchez, and Wingard, mid-snack session, as they discussed what they learned from the first V/H/S, and how […]

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Sundance 2013 News and Reviews

    Editor’s Note: With Sundance 2013 upon us, we’re revisiting some of our favorite shorts from Sundance years past. This wonderful little film played the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, played in our Short Film of the Day series in May 2011 and is back for another run as we kick off a week of Sundance shorts. Why Watch? Because you should think twice before buying that Christmas tree. From the director of Hobo With a Shotgun comes this classic tale of tree-xploitation, shot in pristine 70s style. It’s a bloody affair with some beautiful practical effects and over-the-top everything. We cut them down, we humiliate them with decorations, and now it’s their turn to shove tinsel up our ass. Fair warning: as with any movie where foliage commits wanton acts of violence, there’s a healthy amount of curse words. Also, be on the look out for my interview with Treevenge and Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener on Reject Radio. What Will It Cost? Just 14 minutes of your time. Trust us. You have time for more short films.

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VHS Horror Movie

Recent horror release V/H/S was kind of a mixed bag, but that’s to be expected from anthology films that combine shorts from different filmmakers into a loosely connected whole. Regardless of which segments were your favorites, or which you thought didn’t work, it’s still pretty cool that V/H/S took little known filmmakers like the guys from Radio Silence and let them present their work alongside much-loved directors like Ti West and Joe Swanberg. So, good news for horror fans and horror creators alike, V/H/S/2 is already in the works, and it’s already signed up some top notch directors.

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Miami Connection Trailer

Just a couple of weeks ago, what is arguably the best-loved movie from the ’80s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, enjoyed a good deal of success getting re-released into IMAX theaters. Seeing that the market is hot for 8’0s revivals, Drafthouse Films, the distributing arm of the Alamo Drafthouse, has decided to take it upon themselves to ready what is probably the second biggest movie of the ’80s, Miami Connection, for a theatrical run of its own. What is Miami Connection? How fortunate that you should ask now, because Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener has just cut together a new trailer for the film that will answer all of your questions. To put it simply, Miami Connection is probably the best realized interpretation of the war between Miami’s motorcycle ninja drug gangs and its martial arts vigilante rock band, Dragon Sound, that’s ever been put on film.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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By now you’ve already heard about The ABCs of Death – the anthology project being put together by Drafthouse Films, Timpson Films and Magnet. 26 directors, 26 letters of the alphabet, and 26 tales of horror and gore. The complete list of directors includes: Kaare Andrews, Angela Bettis, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Jason Eisener, Bruno Forzani and Helene, Adrian Garcia Bogliao, Xavier Gens, Noburo Iguchi, Thomas Malling, Yoshihiro Nishimura, J.T. Petty, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Simon Rumley, Marcel Sarmiento, Chris Smith, Srdjan Spasojevic, Timo Tjahjanto, Andrew Traucki, Nacho Vigalondo, Jake West, Ti West, Ben Wheatley, Adam Wingard, Anders Wulffmorgenthaler, and Yudai Yamaguchi. You no doubt counted that list and saw 26 filmmakers. You also noticed that two of them are a filmmaking pair, which means they still need one more to complete the series. That’s where you come in. This is your chance to have your name next to the guy that made A Serbian Film on a film’s credit sequence. Drafthouse Films is hosting an open short film competition to choose the last director where contestants will choose their own word (starting with the Letter T (my money’s on “Trebuchet”)) and craft a short based on it. Entries will be whittled down to a final 10 by a public voting system, and the winner will be chosen by the directors listed above. There’s no entry fee, and it’s open from now until October 1st at midnight PST. Grab your camera. Get started.

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To do a B-movie right, to straddle without crossing the precarious line between hilarity and stupidity, is no small feat. Jason Eisener achieves it with Hobo with a Shotgun, which reaches heights of comic literal-mindedness that the comparatively mild Snakes on a Plane could not. This is, yes, a movie about a hobo with a shotgun, but it’s also an inspired parody of the post-apocalyptic whack-a-mole revenge flick, a film with stronger than expected acting and an ideal dose of energized mania. The immortal Rutger Hauer stars as the titular hobo, who rides the rails into a lawless town populated by seething, ranting maniacs of all stripes. The debauchery is too much to handle – the hobo’s first day in, he’s greeted by a man filming bum fights and an extended set piece in which resident super villain The Drake (Brian Downey) beheads his brother in full view of the public, after which his scantily clad mistress gyrates and devours the fountain of blood. The baddie and his sons (Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith), nightmarish versions of ’80s Tom Cruise, exert a stranglehold over this decaying, crime-ridden megalopolis, where plumes of smoke pour over the streets and gritty, yellowed industrial building mix with seedy punk-populated arcades.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with veteran voice actor Steve Blum and Hobo With a Shotgun director Jason Eisener. Plus, Erin McCarthy from Popular Mechanics and Will Goss from Film.com tackle the Movie News Pop Quiz and maybe, just maybe find some love along the way. By that, I mean a loving concern for summer blockbusters like Harry Potter and Transformers 3. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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The first teaser trailer for Hobo With a Shotgun (that wasn’t the first trailer that the movie was based on), featured a lot of the candy-colored ultra violence that the kids crave these days. Basically, it was awesome. This trailer is awesome in an altogether different way – the way that sees Rutger Hauer soliloquizing in front of a room full of newborns, telling them they’ll grow up to be prostitutes, pimps and pushers. It’s dramatic, deep, and it leads into just a glimpse of the insanity that follows.

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The first trailer for Hobo With a Shotgun was, of course, technically a fake trailer. With the first trailer that actually corresponds to a movie coming out, it looks like director Jason Eisener wanted us to see the deeply human side of the hobo. This is perfect for Rutger Hauer, the unnerving master of all things uncomfortable. The look that he gives in this is the human equivalent of chugging a big gulp of curdled milk. Just for fun, we’re putting the trailers up side by side for a comparison. Both battle for bloody supremacy, but only one of them is doing it for the kids.* *Trailers not suitable for children.

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It hasn’t even been a week since we reported that Rutger Hauer was going to star in Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. We’ve already got some teaser footage from the Nova Scotia set.

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It is always wonderful to see an enterprising filmmaker go from shorts to feature films, especially if their shorts are among the best of what we’ve seen in recent years. Such is the case with Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener, whose shorts Hobo with a Shotgun.

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Of all the movies that play every year at the Sundance Film Festival, it is the shorts that really don’t get enough love. Thankfully, the ‘dance programmers put some of the better shorts in front of certain movies. This brilliant little short, Treevenge, played to the raucous crowds that lined up to see midnight screenings of the Nazi Zombie flick Dead Snow.

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published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
A

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