This past weekend, I witnessed the cinematic milestone that is Hobo with a Shotgun. Sadly, I hadn’t been this jazzed to see a Canadian film since Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg. Though really, that’s probably where the similarities end between Hobo with a Shotgun and My Winnipeg. My interest in them.
I should preface this mini-review of Hobo with a Shotgun with the following caveat: this movie is totally depraved. Only those strong of stomach and constitution need attend. If the phrases ‘baseball bat with razorblades’ or ‘lawnmower to hand violence’ fill you with dread, this is probably not the movie for you. That said, if you’re walking into Hobo with a Shotgun, the title has already given you fair warning.
The movie began its life as a fake trailer in the Rodriguez-Tarantino film Grindhouse, and was expanded (with some Canadian government funding) into a feature-length film. The blood-spattered result is horrifying yet highly entertaining. Shot on location in Halifax and Dartmouth, the city in the fill one-ups Basin City for sheer degradation. And our titular hobo waltzes into town, just looking for some spare change, but is compelled to act when face with the overwhelming crime and corruption (mostly overseen by an unhinged lunatic named The Drake).
The unnamed hobo (played with surprising nuance by Rutger Hauer) starts cleaning up the town, ‘one shell at a time,’ and befriends a local prostitute by the name of Abby (Emma Dunsworth). But this is just the frame upon which numerous set pieces of increasingly creative, unrealistic and sadistic violence are hung. Eventually two nemeses called The Plague show up and ratchet the movie into next-level weirdness. But through it all, Hauer acts like he’s in some genuine article Oscar bait, instead of a Canadian splatter film. If he’s not nominated for a Genie, there is no justice.
Best of all, as the end credits roll, the song ‘Run with Us’ by Canadian pop singer Lisa Lougheed (also the theme song to the cartoon The Raccoons) plays triumphantly. This is an exploitation film that’s not afraid to show its Canadian roots, and not just when (spoiler alert) George Stroumboulopoulos gets killed by an ice skate.
Let’s just hope the Harper government never realizes they partially funded it.
Also: friends, I am now on Twitter, revolution-maker, career-breaker and home of the Fail Whale. If completely inane comments under 140 characters from yours truly sound like your idea of a good time, by all means follow me @idontlikemunday. Why no ‘s’? I made a typo when signing up and it’s too late to fix things now. I’ve already crossed the Twitter equivalent of the rubicon.