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4 complete strangers with similar backgrounds find themselves unknowingly playing a part in bringing a sociopath's sadistic fantasy to life.

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Cast

Credited cast:
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George Edwards
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Wayne Hardy
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Store Manager
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Erica
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Speciman #1
Fatima Gray ...
Parole Officer
Hannah Wright ...
Rachel Lofton
Xavier Hill ...
Detective
Jaci Skoog ...
Jessica (as Jacquelyn Skoog)
Ricky Wilson Jr. ...
Specimen #4
Quincy Robertson ...
Speciman #2
Ricky Catlett ...
Prison Guard
Rachel Newsome ...
Dr. Melanie Ross
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4 complete strangers with similar backgrounds find themselves unknowingly playing a part in bringing a sociopath's sadistic fantasy to life.

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Thriller

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Release Date:

1 December 2017 (USA)  »

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$6,000 (estimated)
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The Director was only allowed access to most of the locations in the film on the day of the shoot causing him to plan his shots generally and adjust on once on set. See more »

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HONGO is an interesting genre mash-up with potent social commentary behind it.
27 September 2017 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

Robert is an ex-con who has been released under parole. He tries to rebuild his life, but there's not many opportunities out there for a guy out of prison like him. He lives in a motel room, sweeps floors at a small business, life is honestly harsh. Robert befriends Rachel, a prostitute who is divided between life in the streets or getting out of the hustle for good. Robert's parole officer, George Edwards decides to help him out and connects him with his friend Jim Gallargo, a man running for Mayor who gives Robert some work running errands for him. Unfortunately for Robert, Gallargo is a man with rather devious plans for him. Robert and Rachel along with other two strangers awake to discover that they are now unwilling pawns in a game of Gallargo's design. The hunt has just begun.

HONGO's translation is "Mushroom" or Fungus. Gallargo compares Robert and Rachel to residual scum, since they are considered low-lives by Gallargo. Gallargo's philosophy is that criminals are eating the resources of the country by simply being kept fed in prison or allowed back into the streets. He simply dehumanizes these people for having made time in prison, no matter what the crime might have been, to Gallargo is all the same to him, they are all scum. Part of Gallargo's plan is to hunt down these ex-cons provided by George thanks to his position as a parole officer. The strangest part of Gallargo's game is that he has turned other ex-cons into mindless slaves similar to zombies, which would also be released to give chase to Robert, Rachel and the rest of the victims. HONGO is at heart an examination of the consequences that the American justice system has on the lives of Ex-Cons. Robert represents the staggering percentage of colored males who are unjustly treated by the criminal justice system. For a colored male like Robert, life after prison can be impossible; no money, no jobs since no one wants to hire an ex-con due to the social stigma that it brings, even if the crime committed by Robert is a misdemeanor. The system is stacked against him, before he enters prison, inside prison and after prison. Gallargo represents the sector of the American white population that sees every man in prison as worthless scum, not caring what the charges where. His mentions of "criminals costing tax-payer money" point that he is definitely a republican conservative in the vein of a Jeff Sessions. It is no coincidence that he is running for mayor and that his political platform involves whipping out people unjustly arrested by the criminal justice system. However, for Gallargo's plan to work, he must find willing "voters" like George who have been themselves victims to a crime, this way Gallargo has the tools to justify his crusade of bigotry. Gallargo also proves to possess misogynist tendencies, he literally picks a prostitute as his victim, demonstrating that this is how he views most women. His plan to turn ex-cons into zombies reflects the way he sees them: as drooling, violent savages that can't be controlled. HONGO is a study on how people like Gallago fail to see that not all ex-cons are violent criminals who are out there to destroy society, or even that the convicts deserve better treatment while serving their sentences and should be provided programs that could help them re-integrate into society. The odds will always be against people like Robert and Rachel as long as men like Gallargo try to run the country.

Director Jaron Lockridge works with very limited resources here but he manages to push for everything he's got here. This is a rather uncommon hybrid of genres. It's a drama about a man trying to re-integrate into society after serving time, it's a societal critique and most surprisingly it's also a zombie film. He doesn't work with sophisticated equipment, but he has the right instincts. His choice of 2.35 :1 aspect ratio allows his compositions and framing to feel genuinely cinematic. His lighting is moody and atmospheric, while the sound mix is crisp and clear. The main leads in Everett Anderson and Hannah Wright deliver engaging performances as Robert and Rachel respectively. Michael LaCour and Jeff Haltom are effective as despicable villains Gallargo and Haltom, with a twisted political philosophy that is sadly shared by many politicians in power these days. Overall, a very interesting mash-up of genres with a strong social commentary behind it.


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