Rutger Hauer is the ridiculous glue that keeps this mess together.

Ah, Hobo With a Shotgun… I have such fond memories of being one of the seemingly few who saw Grindhouse in its entirety in a Canadian theater. A large part of those memories involves seeing the first incarnation of this movie as the contest-winning trailer thrown onto the Canadian prints of that illustrious and misunderstood cinematic experiment. Now we get this shit at feature length and it’s so ridiculous and over-the-top that it’s almost impossible to write a proper review for it. What you should know going in is that this movie is a violent, absurd cartoon. It is also magically and magnificently Canadian. That may be enough to recommend it, but read on for more detail.

The plot is paper-thin. A nameless hobo rolls into a new city where crime is king thanks to a flamboyant gangster named Drake and his two thug sons. Watching fucked up shit happen around town, the hobo seems vaguely distressed by it all but just wants to make enough change to buy a lawnmower and go into business for himself. Instead, he gets mixed up with Slick (Gregory Smith) who is about to do something twisted and probably fatal to the resident hooker with a heart of gold, Abbey (Molly Dunsworth).  After that, it’s basically all escalation as the hobo takes it upon himself to clean up the streets and Drake tries to kill him. All kinds of fucked up hijinx ensues.

But who cares about the plot? This movie is all about the fucked up hijinx. There’s lowfi gore, twisted humor, and “I can’t believe they did that” moments throughout the film. The highlight probably involves Drakes boys, Slick and Ivan, trying to get the citizens to turn against the hobo by committing an act of absurd violence on a schoolbus full of children. When I say that this sequence is sublime in its “fuck you, we’re serious”-ness, I am not shitting you. It has to be seen to be believed. And just when you think the blow is struck and you’re laughing nervously at just how ridiculous it really is, they bring in one more sick joke to seal it.

Unlike Planet Terror, which tried to sort of update this very aesthetic, Hobo With a Shotgun is the real deal. From its D-movie camerawork and ironical acting to its high-contrast “technicolor” cinematography and plethora of East Coast Canadian extras, there’s just something about this that is throwing back so far it’s not even a throwback anymore. A lot of people are going to be turned off by just how little Hobo With a Shotgun is winking at its audience. It is certainly winking at fans of this sort of thing, and at people who saw the trailer, but it is utterly serious about delivering a “grindhouse” movie that is so violent, so silly, and so over the top that you pretty much have to roll with it and laugh along (that sort of uproarious surprised laughter, you know the kind) or just completely miss what makes this thing special.

Run, don’t walk, to see this for yourself.

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