Hobo With a Shotgun

28 03 2011


If you can’t handle a movie that features lines like “I’m going to wash away this blood…with more blood,” then you should stay far, far away from Hobo with a Shotgun.

Based on a fake trailer from Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse, Hobo tells the violent and gory story of a homeless man who has recently arrived in Hope Town (affectionately called ‘f*** town’ by locals) on a train. Unfortunately, the city is a corrupt and brutal mess: local mob leaders torch buses of school children, film-makers force homeless people to eat glass for money, and underage prostitutes roam the streets.

These atrocities are difficult to watch, but they guide the audience into sympathizing with the hobo. Sick of being a helpless bystander, he purchases a loaded shotgun from a pawn shop for fifty dollars and begins his vigilante rampage. Given the title of the movie, we should have seen that part coming. As we see the hobo blowing the heads off of the many evil citizens of Hope Town, it is easy to see that justice is being served.

After that point, the movie gets progressively crazier. At times, the violence is so excessive that it becomes laughable: a girl’s hand is forced into the whirling blade of a lawnmower, until she turns around and uses the sharp, exposed bone to stab her attacker. After that, she sticks the bone into a manhole cover and, screaming, uses it as a lever to pry up the cover and rescue her friend.

At one point, the movie even features the ‘assassins’ who killed Jesus Christ, among other historical figures. Good luck figuring that one out.

Hobo, which was filmed in Nova Scotia, has a decidedly Canadian feel to it. Robb Wells (Ricky, from Trailer Park Boys), has a brief role, and hockey sticks and skates are frequently used as deadly weapons. George Stroumboulopoulos even makes an appearance as the local newscaster. Despite the insane violence, the movie has a familiar, indie touch to it that many Canadians will appreciate.

Surprisingly, there’s a deeper message about the apathy of society and the danger of mob mentality, but the movie doesn’t explore it too deeply. Given the brutal violence that dominates the throughout, any further exploration of this message would have felt awkward and forced.

Once I realized that Hobo wasn’t trying to be like any movie ever made in Hollywood, I began to appreciate it more. Realism flies out the window early on, and you will be better off if you don’t think too hard about the plot or the decisions of the characters. It’s a difficult movie to judge, as I got the increasing notion that it did not care what people think: this is the crazy ride we have created, and you can either love it or hate it. Nevertheless, for some mysterious reason, Hobo With a Shotgun kept me viciously entertained for its duration.