Rose is a very popular prostitute on the streets due to her incredible good looks; that is until she gets knocked up. Her Pimp, Leroy, is fed up with her not bringing in any money from her pregnancy and then finally snaps when he catches her trying to leave. Leroy takes a wire hanger and decides to remove the problem, or so he thinks. 18 years later, now an adult, the baby that was ripped out of his mother is looking for revenge on those who killed his mother and made him into a freak. Payback is indeed a bitch of a whore.
The highly anticipated fourth Plotdigger movie is finally here, and Ryan manages to bring forth a very different movie that is as dramatic as it is engaging. "Hanger" is the coming-of-age story about a young man who becomes reunited with his father after living on the streets for 18 years, and the two find support with one another as they try to come to terms with what happened to his mother...Okay, not really. But, "Hanger" really is a different film in comparison to "Torched", "Live Feed", and "Gutterballs". Even though Ryan gave a preemptive warning that it was going to be different, I really couldn't have imagined how different it was going to be.
"Hanger" is an exploitation style revenge film with a Plotdigger twist. Instead of the traditional protagonist character being a scorned lover or family member seeking revenge for the death of someone. It's a baby that was ripped out of his mother with a hanger (which is why he is named Hanger) and when he turns 18, he is picked up by John (Dan Ellis) off the streets. Where Hanger is informed of who he is, who his mother is, and why he looks the way he does. The reason John finally comes to get Hanger is because the man who killed Hanger's mother (and the woman John loved) is released from jail, and it's time to finally get revenge and punish Leroy, the way he needs to be punished. While they wait until the time is right, John hooks Hanger up with a job at a junkyard and puts him in contact with a man named Russell, in an attempt to help give Hanger a somewhat normal life. By normal, I mean a life of sex, death, and debauchery.
This is what actually makes “Hanger” a very different film, and one that is going to surprise a lot of people. Between scenes of John and Hanger working through their plans of revenge, the death scenes and general total mayhem; is a humorous movie. Its humor actually reminded me a lot of the humor in Troma's movies. Not so much the silliness, but rather the politically incorrect and gross-out humor. No doubt the non-pc humor is going to cause some heads to turn, some uproar, and have people claiming it's done merely for shock. Which maybe part of it, but in the context of the movie, it fits. "Hanger" is taking place in a seedy underworld of scum and trash, so while the racial slurs and the general misogynistic attitude of the characters maybe offensive, it is actually how these people would talk and behave in reality.
The other thing that is going to surprise a number of people is the fact that in comparison to Ryan's previous movies, "Hanger" is actually rather dry in terms of gore. Don't misunderstand that statement; there is gore and some people do get killed in gruesome ways. But when you look at "Gutterballs" and "Live Feed" which are gore films that feature high body counts, and really soaks the scenes in blood. "Hanger" tends to focus more on the sexual subject matter, rather than being one gory death scene after another.
There isn't any doubt in my mind that "Hanger" is going to offend a number of people, because it is a disgusting and offensive movie, and I loved it for that. I know people may say that the movie is being offensive or shocking for the sake of being offensive or shocking. I really didn't see it that way though. What I saw was Ryan taking an idea that is fairly absurd (An aborted baby, growing up and going after the pimp that performed the back-alley abortion.) and ran with it by making it entertaining in a very trashy way. He could have gone the serious route, but at the same time it would still be hard to take the concept seriously. Instead he made the movie serious where it needs to be, in this case it was the exploitation-revenge part of the plotline, and then filled in the blanks with humor. The point of the humor was to help make it entertaining and to have the audience allow themselves to laugh at and be entertained by material that would normally be offensive. Like the character Russell; a Chinese character played by a Caucasian actor that is done in a racial stereo-type fashion. While it should be shocking in how the character is portrayed, he is instead an extremely funny character and the fact of how politically incorrect it is, makes it that much funnier.
Out of the entire film, the only thing that I had a problem with is that the movie builds and builds on this confrontation that is going to occur between John, Hanger and Leroy. When it finally gets there though, it sort of peters out and the ending feels pretty anti-climactic. Other than that though, the movie is a great entertaining trash-fest that has come the closest to being a true throwback to grindhouse cinema that any movie has so far. It has a great revenge theme that has our characters disposing of various antagonist until they get to the man they're really after. It isn't afraid to cross the line and have strong sexual content, especially given that part of the story revolves around prostitution. Then it changes things up by throwing humor into the mix and trying to get the audience to laugh at some rather unpleasent material. The best thing you can do when watching this movie is to go into it with no expectations. If you go in expecting to see something similar to Ryan's previous films, you will be disappointed. Just sit back and accept "Hanger" for what it is.