Hobo With a Shotgun
A vigilante parody to root against: ‘Hobo With a Shotgun’ has lots of violence but little wit
The faux-grindhouse amuse bouche that calls itself “Hobo With a Shotgun’’ illustrates a modern B-movie principle: If you set out to parody junk, you will more than likely end up with junk. Garbage in, garbage out, as the net-heads used to say. A merrily blood-soaked homage to the vigilante action movies of the 1970s and early 1980s, “Hobo’’ is a good idea in theory that’s brought down by the banality of its practice.
The movie does get a half-star for that efficient title — verily, there is a hobo and he has a shotgun — and one star for raising the career of Rutger Hauer back into public view. The one-time “Blade Runner’’ villain and star of “The Hitcher’’ has made an admirable 25 films in the past five years, but have you seen “Dead Tone,’’ “Goal II: Living the Dream,’’ or “The 5th Execution’’? Me neither.
Unshaven and white-haired, Hauer plays the Hobo — no other name offered or needed — who staggers into the post-apocalyptic hamlet of Scum City and quickly realizes the need for violent retribution. The populace is cowering under the reign of local kingpin Drake (Brian Downey, foaming at the mouth) and his sadistic sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman). With their Ray-Bans and popped prep collars, the sons come off as evil versions of Tom Cruise during his “Risky Business’’ period. This may not be coincidental.
Molly Dunsworth plays the tough-on-the-outside/mush-on-the-inside teen hooker who takes the Hobo under her damaged wing before he grabs his firearm and starts settling scores with robbers, pedophile Santas, and evil reality-video producers. The fake blood and intestines spew with aplomb, and while you’ll probably flinch when one character loses a few fingers to a power mower in glorious medium close-up, the gore is so winkingly fraudulent that it’s hard to get offended.
It’s also hard to find much of this as clever as director Jason Eisener and his co-writers do, despite a hellacious shoot-out/beat-down in a hospital and the cheerful sight of three topless women beating a human piñata with baseball bats. “Hobo With a Shotgun’’ revels in the trash aesthetic of ’70s trash cinema, from its over-saturated colors to its intentionally bad acting to the puffy font on the title credits. Every time one of the characters opens his or her mouth, though, you realize how little actual wit has gone into the project. (I’d give you an example, but nothing’s printable.) Can you make fun of something that’s already a joke? These folks barely try.
Shot in Nova Scotia and apparently funded with local lottery money — O Canada! — “Hobo With a Shotgun’’ is also the very least, and hopefully the last, of the fake trailer spinoffs of 2007’s “Grindhouse.’’ It makes last year’s “Machete’’ look like “The King’s Speech.’’