Hobo With a Shotgun is exactly what the title promises: grimy and violent. But this Hobo is incredibly good at being those particular things. It’s a throwback, an attempt to recreate the cheap exploitation cinema of the ’70s and early ’80s, and if that’s your kind of thing, then you’ll love this movie.

Hobo With a Shotgun is an extension of the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse experiment. When Grindhouse was being released theatrically, Tarantino and Rodriguez held a contest to see what indie filmmaker could come up with the best faux trailer that would truly capture the look and feel of a seedy exploitation movie. Canadian director Jason Eisener blew the competition out of the water with his Hobo trailer, and the short was included in Canadian prints of the Grindhouse film. It was such a convincing trailer, and such a fan-favorite, that it eventually caught the eyes of film producers who wanted to turn a faux trailer into a real movie, and that’s exactly what they did.

What elevates this film from the depths of simple exploitation is the star of the show, the titular hobo, played by Rutger Hauer. He can chew some scenery when the time calls for it, but he’s working beyond that in this movie, taking over-the-top dialogue and making it really work for the character. He gives an inner life to a role that, in less talented hands, could have been nothing more than a one-note joke.

His relationship (a completely platonic one, mind you) with a prostitute named Abby (played by Molly Dunsworth) is one of the film’s only emotional arcs, and it’s often played with a tenderness that belies the film’s audacious violence and gore. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to Dunsworth, who really holds her own against the veteran actor and becomes the emotional anchor of the film.

The cinematography, by Karim Hussain, is a real thing of beauty, echoing the vibrant color palette of Italian giallos and visually placing the film in an almost pop art version of reality. It is truly a compliment to the almost cartoon nature of the film’s action.

If you like your movies over-the-top and your violence epic, then look no further, because Hobo With a Shotgun will entertain you … one shell at a time.

Grade: B

Hobo With a Shotgun releases in select theaters May 6.