A homicidal hobo takes out the trash
Filmed in a Nova Scotia that is very different from the one you’ll see in tourist promotions, Hobo With a Shotgun is a blast of exploitation cinema that truly lives up — or down, depending on your perspective — to the movie’s lurid title. This is the second flick to be inspired from what were originally fake trailers for non-existent movies that ran at the beginning of Grindhouse, the Tarantino/Rodriguez tribute to 1970s exploitation cinema. Although in some ways the original version of Hobo was a better deal, being one minute of perfectly wicked fun, the full-length follow-up is not without lots of gross humour and a sprinkling of scuzzy charm.
Plot-wise it’s a standard revenge/vigilante flick, albeit one that grabs your interest because the protagonist is an elderly drifter (Rutger Hauer, far from his Blade Runner glory days) who jumps off a train only to find himself in a hellhole of a town where the police are in cahoots with the local supervillain who runs things. He may not be much of an actor but he surely is an A-one psycho: the first time we see him he is happily beheading his own brother (played with sporting panache by Rob Wells of Trailer Park Boys fame) in an impressively baroque manner that results in a geyser of blood more suitable for a deranged fire hydrant than a human neck. It takes awhile for our hobo hero to get involved, but once he grabs that pump action shotgun to prevent mayhem during a pawnshop robbery he rarely stops shooting till the end credits. (There is a lot of trash in the town that needs to be taken out.)
There is of course a thick coating of irony drizzled over all this campy carnage — not least when CBC talk show icon George Strombolopolous gets killed with a hockey skate while giving a newscast about the unkempt avenging angel. But when satirizing badness, it is worth noting that you have to actually be creative to get a passing grade.
With that in mind, this Hobo is more tramp than treasure, but it has undeniable entertainment value for a Friday night crowd wanting to hoot with crude pleasure at the tongue-in-cheek sadism of an over-the-top slaughterfest. M
Hobo with a Shotgun ★★Directed by Jason Eisener; Starring Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth & Brian Downey18A – 86 minutes • Continues at the Capitol