Starring Rutger Hauer and Gregory Smith. Rated 18A.
Serving up a blood-gushing orgy of ultraviolence dished out by morally bankrupt psychopaths and vigilante street people, Hobo With a Shotgun might very well be the most outrageous film to ever come out of Canada. It’s certainly the goriest, with a half-dozen scenes managing the difficult trick of being stomach-turning without sliding into torture-porn territory. But the craziest thing about director Jason Eisener’s loving ode to ’70s and ’80s exploitation flicks is that it actually has a warm and fuzzy message: although the world is a stinking shithole, there’s always hope for tomorrow. All it takes is one enraged homeless person—er, hobo—to get mad as hell, grab a shotgun, and go Travis Bickle.
Watch the trailer for Hobo With a Shotgun. />
At the centre of the mayhem is the Hobo (an admirably weather-beaten Rutger Hauer), who rides the rails into Hope Town, which is basically Halifax, Nova Scotia, dressed up as Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, only with videotaped bum fights, prostitute-abusing cops, and on-street executions. He sets about ridding the town of its beyond-cartoonish crazies, the best being Drake (Brian Downey), a white-suited senior citizen who is like a 93-percent-more-apoplectic Ernest Angley.
Hobo With a Shotgun began as a short trailer for the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse, which is all you need to know about where Eisener is coming from. From the supersaturated Technicolor and digitalized graininess to the admirably inventive hyperviolence, this is pure, glorious trash for trash’s sake, which in no way diminishes its appeal.
In classic retro-’70s style, the acting is grossly overexaggerated. The exception is Hauer, whose down-but-not-entirely-out hobo acts as a moral tether to the real world.
The only problem with Hobo With a Shotgun? It’s not meant for modern multiplexes. Someone needs to screen this at the Fox Cinema on Main Street, preferably on a midnight double bill with Machete.