Aren’t Canadians supposed to be polite? Jason Eisener — the madman behind this soporific, gore-drenched freak-out — is trying his damndest to puncture the myth of Northern niceness by throwing all manner of mean-spirited depravity at the screen, and seeing what doesn’t slide off. Of course, he has backed himself into a corner; truth in advertising goes a long way at the multiplex, and when you give your exploitation flick the silliest title since Snakes on a Plane, you had damn well better deliver the goods.
B-Movie icon Rutger Hauer stars as the gritty title badass, his trademark feathery blond hair gone gray, and his deep wrinkles reading like a road map of sorrows. Hauer’s soulful drifter strolls into the quaint “Scum City,” hoping only to panhandle enough scratch to purchase a lawnmower to start a landscaping biz. Even this humble ambition is too much to ask in this lawless burg; caught in the ruthless vice-grip of an insane crime lord called Drake (Brian Downey) who has most of the town cops in his pocket and gets his kicks torturing the sheepish populace. Our heroic bum runs afoul of Drake’s vile enforcer sons, who are busy terrorizing the mall arcade in their matching Ray-Bans and letterman jackets, like a twisted echo of early Tom Cruise. After the hobo interferes with their assault on a helpless kid, these punks carve up Hauer’s chest and toss him in the trash, where he is rescued by a hooker with a heart of gold (Molly Dunsworth). This mismatched duo cooks up an escape plan from this hellhole, but not before dishing out a little extreme payback. Using cash earned from performing humiliating stunts, the hobo buys the aforementioned shotgun, stops a robbery, and then starts sweeping the streets clean of filth, Bronson-style.
This whole project started as a goof, a faux trailer inserted into Quentin Tarrantino’s 2007 sleaze homage fest Grindhouse, and it plays a bit like a tribute to the low-budget, gonzo charms of Troma studios. Yet what worked as a one-off gag is quickly stretched to the breaking point at feature length — the only drama being what fresh horror will hit the screen next. Limbs are severed, heads roll, a schoolbus is incinerated, and a dude gets burnt by sticking his hockey skate into a plugged in toaster. Some is clever, but much of it’s wearying and a bit lame — there’s little wiggle room when you’re spoofing a parody. To his credit, good old Rutger plasters on a pained grimace and plows through the gore and goofiness with grim determination; a holy avenger paying for our violence-loving sins.
Doors at 8 p.m., movie at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 7, at the Burton-in-Exile Brew ’n’ View at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., 248-544-3030; themagicbag.com.
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