With my love of Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and Terrence Malick (yes I consider him worth of putting in the same conversation as the first two legendary directors), it may come as a surprise that I was a big fan of Robert Rodriguez’s and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature when it first came out several years ago. Planet Terror was a pitch-perfect recreation of the “classic” B-horror film (though it dripped with more style and humor than those films could ever hope to attain), and Death Proof… well my feelings about Death Proof are a little more complicated. I hated it the first time I saw it and I still think it’s Tarantino’s least memorable film, but it contains some of his most memorable dialogue and if you watch it apart from Planet Terror, it’s much more enjoyable. It’s just too slow-paced and “talky” to be watched immediately after Planet Terror. I consider the blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite to be a spiritual successor to the Grindhouse films, and once again, I’m a huge fan of that film. However, there have now been two films made from the fake trailers shown in Grindhouse. Robert Rodriguez himself directed the less than impressive Machete (though I have to cheer a movie where illegal immigrants massacre racist rednecks). I’m unfamiliar with the maker of the outrageously violent Hobo With a Shotgun (other than knowing he wasn’t involved with Grindhouse and is from Canada), but it certainly puts the grindhouse in Grindhouse. However, unlike the three films I mentioned enjoying, Hobo With a Shotgun plays the ultra-violence straight and without an ounce of the wit, humor, and style that made Grindhouse such a fun ode to the B-movies. Hobo With a Shotgun is just a B-movie.

Rutger Hauer plays the nameless Hobo who has arrived in the misnomer known as Hope Town, a lawless hellhole ruled over by the barbaric and indescribably evil “The Drake” (Brian Downey). The Hobo tries to mind his own business amidst the filth and depravity of Hope Town until he witnesses the near rape and kidnapping of young prostitute Abby (Molly Dunsworth) by the Drake’s son, Slick (The Patriot‘s Gregory Smith). When the Hobo intervenes and beats the holy hell out of Slick, he drops Slick off to the police only to find that the police are as dirty as the criminals. They mutilate his chest and throw him in the garbage. As the Hobo tries once again to ignore what’s happening around him, a robbery of the pawn shop (where he’s trying to buy a lawn mower to start his own business) finally pushes him over the edge. He grabs a shotgun off the wall, kills the robbers (who were threatening to shoot a baby), and goes off on a gore-filled revenge-fueled quest to clean up the streets of Hope Town. And to quote the film, he’s going to do it one shell at a time.

This is going to be a short review because… Jesus Christ this movie… I stand corrected about something I said earlier in this post. Jason Eisener actually made the original Hobo With a Shotgun fake trailer from Grindhouse. Sorry about that misstep. But, back to the review. It’s a fine line between being an exploitation film parody and being an actual exploitation film. The only movie I can think of that tread the line in a finer way (without directly winking at the audience with visible boom mics or other nodding jabs at the cheapness of old films) was Shoot ‘Em Up (which I love). That movie made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions and contained a thinly veiled allegory about the danger of the arms industry. It was smart and stylish. Hobo With a Shotgun is just an exploitation film that happens to have been made in an era where (outside of the torture porn horror subniche) exploitation films stopped being made a long time ago. There’s nothing ironic or witty about the violence. The violence simply is. And boy is it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more grotesquely violent film. I don’t have a weak stomach and I giggle with glee in video games when I commit heinous acts of violence, but Hobo With a Shotgun didn’t just cross the line once, or twice. It crossed the line several dozen times. There was nothing deeper or visually striking about the film (except for the buckets of blood). Actually, the film left me so cold (and disgusted) that it retroactively makes me question why I like Planet Terror. If it ruins Grindhouse for me in reverse, I’ll be very pissed.

However, I can’t fall the film for being exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a movie about a Hobo With a Shotgun, and it’s my fault for expecting anything better from that. The only reason Planet Terror, Death Proof, and Black Dynamite are watchable is because they were made by very capable and intelligent film makers who chose to work in a silly and ridiculous genre. Jason Eisener is no Quentin Tarantino. The only good thing I can say about the film is that Rutger Hauer is surprisingly good in this part. It’s easy to miss because of all of the ridiculous shit he does (and all of the ridiculous shit happening around him), but his performance was actually kind of subtle and nuanced. Nothing else in the film was.

Final Score: C-