Joseph Christiana, 4/29/12

Tomahawk assigned the introduction of 2011’s HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN to me because he
thought, in his words, "I’d be able to raise something interesting out of the muck." Well, it’s a
bloody muck indeed and I do think I have one or two appendages we might take a hack at. In
fact, I think I may be able to even coin a new term for a film like this. But first, the plot:

The Hobo, played by Rutger Haur is riding the rails when he decides to get off at HOPE TOWN
in order to pursue his version of the American Dream, namely, panhandling enough change to
buy a lawnmower and start a landscaping business. What he finds is a town seemingly in the
throes of apocalypse. The town is overrun by criminals of every variety and is ruled by a
vicious crime family who make public displays of their gruesome killings in order to
simultaneously entertain and scare the crap out of the general population.

The Hobo gets in the middle of this muck while sticking up for a street whore. The ensuing
altercation between him and the frathouse-Jersey Shore-esque sons of the crime family leads
him to the Hope Town Police. But the cops are in the pockets of the crime boss, see, and the
Hobo is beaten viciously. The whore ends up nursing him to health and the Hobo soon decides
to put the pursuit of the American dream on hold. Instead, he buys a 20 gauge shotgun and
blows away all sorts of vagrancy in ways that are as gleeful as they are bloody.

The Crime Boss declares war on the vigilante along with anyone else who may be living on the
streets. The hobo and the whore must fight for survival and then… well, you can sort of guess
at the rest. One kill-gimmick is topped by another until the big blood-splattery ending.

There’s lots of reasons to see this movie if you like your killings fast and often and bloody as
hell. The whole thing makes you feel like you’ve been on a six day Gears of War video game
bender geeked out on a steady diet of Monster Energy Drink and crystal meth amphetamine.  
Hell, that sounds like a good time, I admit, and in a different time and place I’d probably have a
raucous good time with the film. But the truth is it’s a blast for about a half hour before the in-
joke gets threadbare, the violence numbingly repetitive, and the film, ultimately boring.

But boring wasn’t the problem I had with it. Like I said, another time and place it’s lots of fun
and a solid recommendation. The director, Jason Eisner, has a clear vision (he must be
wearing windshield wiper equipped goggles) and I sense he achieved making exactly the film
he set out to make.  My issue is what the film is in the larger sense of the word. It’s not horror
so let’s cross that out right away. It’s not scary. Not intended to be.

And it’s not exploitation either. Some of the key ingredients to an exploitation film are a low
budget, limited means of distribution, and its being produced outside the Hollywood
establishment. We can check those first two right off. And though Alliance films is technically a
major Canadian production company, the film had its beginnings as a trailer made for
Grindhouse, the film from two of Hollywood’s reigning princes Robert Rodriguez and Quentin

So this film is made under their tutelage and it falls, with their films, into a category I call
Fauxploitation. But where in Tarantino’s films you can mine through the hard shells of irony
and cynicism to find something sincere, in films like this, from lesser filmmakers, there’s not a
sentiment anywhere to be found. Not even genuine sentiment for the styles it’s cannibalizing.
At least none that I gleaned.

I’ve always had trouble watching exploitation. I admit it's a guilty pleasure at times, but there’s
something perverse and snide and condescending and smug about watching a film because it’
s bad. I think it has something to do with that phrase in the Bible: He that is among you without
sin, let him cast the first stone. Now that applies to sin and sinners, but it also applies to art and
artists and film and filmmakers.

And here what we have is a film made purposely bad. PURPOSELY BAD. And so stands in self-
appointed judgment of the films that it claims to be paying homage to.

Ok. I came of age in the 90's, the golden era of ironic cynicism and to be honest, I’m tired of it.
I'm tired of ironists and judges, especially those who’ll mock a film without ever having tried to
make one (a real one, that is). I’m tired of ironic film watching. And I’m even more tired of ironic
films too scared to make a film… instead of a film about other films. None of these things, in my
opinion, bear much else than bloody, dead fruit.   
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