Hanger (2009) – By Cary Conley

Last month I discovered a relatively new filmmaker out of Canada named Ryan Nicholson.  I reviewed his first two films in last month’s issue, Live Feed and Gutterballs, both of which I enjoyed but warned readers of the extreme nature of both films.

Well, Nicholson’s latest entry in extreme horror makes his first two films look like Walt Disney created them.  I can safely say that this is the sickest, most depraved, twisted and perverted film I have ever seen, hands down.  And I’ve seen all the Miike stuff, Guinea Pig, Buttgereit’s films, Cannibal Holocaust, Salo, and so forth.  This film beats them all. 

At its most basic, Hanger is a tale of revenge.  A skid-row whore is forced into a late-term abortion done with a coathanger by her pimp.  The fetus is ripped from her womb, wrapped in plastic, and thrown in a dumpster where it miraculously survives and is rescued by a homeless bum.  Eighteen years later, Hanger—as the child was named—is now a man and is reunited with his father.  His dad finds him a job at a local recycling center manned by several freaks and he is set up in a run-down apartment with one of the other freaks.

Hanger is then told about his mother–who died during the abortion–and he finds out that the pimp was sentenced to 18 years in prison but has just been conveniently released.  So Hanger and his father embark on a quest for revenge, killing anyone who stands in their way.

That is the basic plot, which is pretty thin, but it’s enough to set up the basic revenge storyline.  There are several subplots along the way, some of which are entertaining, but none of which really amount to anything.  This film reminds me of a Troma film.  It is politically incorrect, has over-the-top gore and plenty of nudity, and a really seedy look and atmosphere.  In fact, Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman makes an appearance as a transvestite whore who gets his member removed in a despicable act of violence committed by his pimp.  It’s almost as if Nicholson has thrown everything, including the kitchen sink, into this film.  If you remember an obscure ultra-cheap 80’s flick called Sreet Trash or Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson’s very first film outing, Bad Taste, then you might have a feel for the seediness of this film.

Now all this doesn’t mean I’m being totally critical of Hanger.  In fact, I appreciate some of Troma’s library of misfit films.  If you are in the right mindset and you go into the film knowing what to expect, then you probably won’t be too disappointed.  The story is really secondary to the real reason this film was…birthed (pun intended).  Nicholson revels in all things grotesque, and this film has it all.  Basically the plot is merely a way to move from one outrageous scene to another, each scene worse than the one before.  The effects aren’t the best, but they are disgusting, including at least two head smashings (I do mean smashing—like into a pulp), an extremely nasty abortion, a colostomy bag emptied into a character’s mouth, and…well, it gets worse—quite a bit worse, but I don’t want to spoil all the disgusting fun for new viewers.  Suffice to say, an iron stomach is a prerequisite for this film.

As with Nicholson’s other movies, clinical nudity to the point of being pornographic and tons of sex abound.  In fact, in one creative and unique sequence, we cut between three different scenes, all involving simulated but extremely graphic sexual situations. 

While this film is extremely misogynistic, ultra violent, and exhibits no taste whatsoever, you have to give Nicholson credit—he makes the films he wants to make and he does it on his own terms.  And he is able to do it with an incredible amount of (dark) humor that effectively lightens the mood of the events enough to show the viewer that no matter how ugly the scene, Nicholson is really only trying to have some fun, albeit very perverse fun.

Not a film for everyone so be warned.  But if you like your films extreme—as I do– and you think you are jaded, give this one a try.  You won’t be disappointed…if you can make it through the entire 80 minutes.