“Hoboken Hollow” may very well be, as its opening credits insist, based on real-life events. But that doesn’t prevent this indifferently made and luridly gory exploitation pic from coming off like formulaic fiction of the most repulsive sort. Often calling to mind the grisly cheapies that were Deep South drive-in staples during the 1960s and ’70s, this made-in-Texas indie lacks the technical polish and youth appeal of most other recent blood-splattered horror shows, and likely will fast-forward to vidstore bins after a handful of theatrical engagements.
Jason Connery stars as a morose Iraq War vet who hitches a ride into hell while thumb-tripping through West Texas. Like many other luckless drifters before him, he’s forced into the ranks of slave laborers at Hoboken Hollow, a remote ranch run by the most sadistic bunch of whack-jobs this side of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
For the imprisoned unfortunates at the aptly nicknamed “Devil’s Ranch,” employee benefits include electric shocks, vicious beatings and a borderline-starvation diet. Workers who attempt to escape are turned into beef jerky — and their leftover extremities are served to the hogs.
Director-scripter Glen Stephens has cobbled together something that resembles a narrative to connect the episodes of vividly detailed mayhem. But the pace is arthritic, and the plotholes are too prevalent. (Just who is that sharp-toothed little girl in the upstairs room?) With plenty of cheap shocks but little real suspense, “Hoboken Hollow” is nothing more than an uninspired cavalcade of carnage, much of it shamelessly gratuitous.
At one point, a drifter is struck by a truck — just so aud can get a glimpse of an eyeball hanging from a windshield wiper. At another point, a woman is raped by a monstrous thug while his unsightly wife watches in amusement.Pic goes a corpse too far during a scene in which an African-American prisoner is hung from a tree, then dragged along a gravel road by a fast-moving vehicle while he is still (barely) alive. Any similarity between this nastiness and a real-life atrocity in Jasper, Texas, of a few years back probably isn’t coincidental.
Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen and Robert Carradine pop up periodically in cameo roles to pick up easy paychecks and provide recognizable names for the DVD packaging. But no one onscreen appears to be having more fun than C. Thomas Howell, who gorges himself on the scenery in his over-the-top supporting turn as an exuberantly cruel foreman with extremely bad teeth.
Tech values are unimpressive; even the bloody entrails and sliced body parts look fake.