Hobo With a Shotgun

If I hadn’t known that Hobo With a Shotgun was based on a fake trailer from the Tarantino/Rodriguez exploitation throwback Grindhouse, I probably would have guessed. Jason Eisner’s feature debut, about a hobo (Rutger Hauer channeling Anthony Hopkins) liberating “Slum City” from its ruthless crime lords with a double-barrel, has the feel of an extended drunken lark, its actors ready to burst out laughing as soon as Eisner yells “cut.” Which would be fine if the film weren’t so totally devoid of inspiration or finesse.

Eisner works overtime to create a John Carpenter-esque urban wasteland for “Slum City,” but he ends up with something closer to a deranged theme park — more Rob Zombie than Carpenter. The movie is an endless exercise of can-you-believe-we’re-actually-doing-this oneupmanship: a school bus full of kids is blow-torched; a bat covered in razor blades is wielded against a human piƱata; handsome Canadian actor Gregory Smith wears a varsity jacket with “SLICK” written across the back while delivering lines like “the only thing I’m gonna let slide is my dick in your pussy.” It’s all occasionally good for a chuckle (the fevered, anything-for-a-gasp sensibility extends to a hospital scene, with a kindly female nurse pounding a comatose prostitute’s chest while screaming “Live! Live, you goddamn whore!”), but is more often just exhausting, a winking, obnoxious assault on good taste. Hobo With a Shotgun reminded me of Hatchet, another inexplicable genre favorite that, from where I sat, seemed to do little but rearrange genre tropes to get a Pavlovian rise from its niche audience.

 

-- Eugene Novikov

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