Hobo With a Shotgun is neo-exploitation fare whose title says it all. Born out of a grind-house trailer contest cosponsored by Robert Rodriguez, this grainy, grungy replication of the blood-splattered B's of the '60s and '70s stars Rutger Hauer as a homeless guy who hops off a freight car and decides to clean the hellish place up.
"You can't solve all the world's problems with a shotgun," Abby (Molly Dunsworth), the hooker with a heart of gold, cautions.
"It's all I know," Hauer's hobo responds, stoic and grim.
And that's pretty much all writer John Davies and director Jason Eisener seem to know, too. Because, after the gleefully sick opening 15 minutes, with Hauer pushing his shopping cart through the ironically named Hope Town; watching as The Drake (Brian Downey), a maniacal mob boss, deploys a razor-wire noose to decapitate some schmo; and witnessing The Drake's twisted sons, Ivan (Nick Bateman) and Slick (Gregory Smith), gleefully terrorize what's left of the populace; the concept quickly becomes redundant.
Even connoisseurs of the genre (and I confess, I'm not one) will find the cheesy chopfests and gratuitous gore less than exciting as one urban prosthetics-strewn bloodbath begets the next. Tedium kicks in.
Hauer, the game Dutchman who has worked at the high and low ends of the movie biz (and all points between), keeps a straight face - well, a scowl, actually - as he moves through this mess. All Mr. Hobo really wants is the lawn mower in the pawnshop, so he can start a one-man beautification program, but The Drake and his brood get in the way. When Hauer's gloomy-eyed antihero spots the double-barreled firearm in the store, he makes that purchase instead. Next thing you know, he's a media star - the vagrant vigilante. (Tabloid headline: "Hobo Stops Begging, Demands Change.")
The streetscapes are colorfully graffiti-smeared ("Satanic dystopia" reads one tag), and the bad guys coked-up cartoons. And if a bunch of annoying schoolkids roll up in a bus? Set 'em on fire.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/onmovies/.