Hanger (2009)
By: Devon B. on April 5, 2010  | 
Vicious Circle Films | Region 1, NTSC | 1.78:1 (Non-anamorphic) | English DD 5.1 | 90 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Ryan Nicholson
Starring: Dan Ellis, Nathan Dashwood, Ronald Patrick Thompson, Wade Gibb
Screenplay: Ryan Nicholson, Patrick Coble
Country: Canada
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Sometimes filmmakers will pay homage to other films, like in Reservoir Dogs where Quinton Tarantino paid tribute to City on Fire by recreating its plot in his movie. Usually the idea is to honour something that was good, but in Hanger I swear there's a scene that was inspired by the peeping sequence in Violent Shit II: Mother Hold My Hand. I can think of few filmmakers less deserving of homage than Andreas Schnaas, but then I can also think of few filmmakers that would be able to be able to outdo Schnass in the gross out game. Hanger's director and co-author, Ryan Nicholson, is one of those people.

In Hanger, Debbie Rochon is a heavily pregnant prozzie. She needs money to give her angry pimp, but her last regular feels it's wrong doing someone who's now having sex for two, so he dumps her. He does give her the motivational promise that if she has the kid and cleans up, he'll start paying her for sex again. The pimp isn't happy that Rochon is now completely clientless, and decides he's going to force her to do what he's been saying she should've done since her pregnancy began. Grabbing a trusty coat hanger, the pimp aborts the foetus, and there is nothing left to the imagination in this scene. The abortion doesn't go as well as planned because Rochon doesn't cope with this abrupt and unsanitary de-kidding and dies. The child is thrown in a bin, but is saved by a...well, not a kindly bum, but at least a bum that doesn't let the child die in the bin. The child grows up, quaintly named Hanger after the implement that birthed him, but has "birthmarks" and a few other health issues he developed while living on the streets. At 18 years old the bum sends the kid off with his mum's last client, who has decided to steer the boy on a course of revenge against the pimp.

While Hanger has a few funny lines, it has less humour than Nicholson's previous films. It may also be his most surreal film. The characters in all his movies do bizarre things, but the characters in Hanger revel in acting oddly, like the guy who's tortured but seems to care more about being farted on after the torture than he did about the actual torture. Hanger, and everyone else in this movie, is completely unstable, so maybe the actions characters take are about everyone being a bit unhinged, or maybe it's just an attempt at comic book logic. The way characters behave gives the film its surreal feeling, a feeling that is further enhanced by the weird prosthetics that many in the cast wear to make the film look more like a comic book.

The film is a bit slow going in the first hour, and certainly would've benefited from some tightening. Unfortunately the initial pacing combined with the surreal feel made it virtually impossible for me to get engrossed in the film. However, the payoff for the patient viewer is plenty of another kind of gross that will either make Hanger seem worth your time or warn you off it for good.

Nicholson isn't a lightweight when it comes to gore and general unpleasantness, and this is his most brutal film yet. There're some good FX on display, but sometimes they're lingered on too long, revealing too much and allowing the viewer to see through them. The real taboo breaking in this film doesn't come from gore, but more from an abundance of sexual perversion so repugnant it would make Jörg Buttgereit blush. Used tampon fetishes taken to icky extremes combined with male and female rape, not always in God given holes, make Hanger very unpleasant. The film is sleazy, vile and disgusting and populated with amoral characters doing amoral things to each other. If that sounds like your thing, it's time to revel.

Nicholson has a cameo part, as does Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger.
Hanger looks a bit weird, like it's been overly processed. The film is mostly clean and clear, but there is some noticeable grain in darker scenes. The menus are 16x9 enhanced but the film itself isn't, just like the DVD of Nicholson's first film, Live Feed.
The audio is available in a 5.1 mix or an unlisted 2.0 mix. A lot of the film seems ADR'd, and there're some sound synch issues. I found the dialogue clearer on the 2.0 mix and I could hear more background noises, so I actually preferred the 2.0 track.
Extra Features
The DVD has a making of; a set visit; 90 seconds of deleted scenes; the fake porno from the movie; a blooper reel; the trailer; a still gallery; and trailers for The Band, Jonathan Barrows and Run! Bitch Run!; and a commentary. The making of runs about 20 minutes and is pretty generic, but does go into the idea of making a cartoony film, albeit a cartoony film with some nasty stuff in it. My favourite extra is a 12 minute on the set with Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma and creator of the Toxic Avenger, which goes into some of the problems on set the night he was there. The commentary is with Nicholson, and he does a good job here providing relevant information. He compares the film to Bloodsucking Freaks, which is actually a pretty apt analogy except Hanger is more repugnant. Nicholson also confesses that even he finds the "birth" scene taxing.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Nicholson has taken his films to the extreme, but now it's time to get a cohesive, gripping story to go with the vile set pieces. In the special features Nicholson describes his first three films as a trilogy of sorts, and I'd like to see him abandon the comic book logic in his next movie. Hanger is hard to rate because it sets out to offend and will probably do so for virtually everyone, but that doesn't make it good, and I think it is actually a step backwards in quality from the silliness meets savageness of Gutterballs. To be fair, Nicholson couldn't have made a film more up my alley than Gutterballs, so I was bound to find his next effort a step down, but I found Hanger's padding and surrealism distracting and a bit boring.

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