Hobo With a Shotgun
Not rated, 86 min. Directed by Jason Eisener. Starring Rutger Hauer, Gregory Smith, Robb Wells, Brian Downey, Jeremy Akerman, Mark A. Owen, Molly Dunsworth.
This Hobo started life as one of the faux trailers in the underloved Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez mash-up Grindhouse, and it's to be commended for truth in advertising, since the bluntly accurate title pretty much says it all. But Hobo With a Shotgun is more than just another movie about a deranged drifter with vengeance on the brain and a 12-gauge in his mitts. It's an ode, of sorts, to Seventies grindhouse cinema, curdled and gooey and tailor-made for midnight showings (preferably with a crowd, preferably intoxicated). Think Bukowski, not e.e. cummings, and you'll be on the right track. The former Roy Batty himself, Rutger Hauer, plays the fragrant vagrant in question, and he looks every bit the creepy codger. It's disconcerting to view, as I did, the Hauer of Paul Verhoeven's perverse 1973 landmark, Turkish Delight, back-to-back with the Hauer of Hobo. The years have not been kind to the actor's stormy Dutch mug, but his face is still one of the most expressive in film history (check out his near wordless performance in The Hitchhiker for proof, if needed). Director Eisener knows his Seventies scum-films well enough, but the digitally lensed Hobo is more akin to the gloriously gross Street Trash and early Troma gorefests like The Toxic Avenger than a purist's recollection of Seventies exploitation films. Frankly too polished in its griminess to be an actual first cousin to 42nd Street fare, the ambitious Hobo never seems to settle on whether it's a parody, satire, knowing wink, or clever riposte to the low-budget, lower-morals glory daze of NYC's legendary epicenter of cinematic sleaze and urine-soaked balconies. Eisener has front-loaded his movie with guns, guts (or viscera), and, yes, Hauer the hobo painting the town with both, but ultimately, it's still less misanthropically hypnotic than, say, Roberta Findlay's 1985 flashback, Tenement.
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