PLOT: Upon returning from vacations, a family discovers that their home has been broken into. Once the mess has been cleaned up, they attempt to return to their normal routine. Unfortunately for them, something horribly wicked is waiting for their return.
REVIEW: The idea behind HANGMAN is pretty damn terrifying. You can throw as much of the supernatural my way as possible, but having somebody break into your home and stalk you from inside is just plain messed up. And more importantly, a little too realistic. And while many of us have moved far past the old “found footage” routine, this is a surprisingly fresh take on it. Why don’t they put down the camera when they are being hunted down? Do they really need to film everything? Those questions are irrelevant here. This time the psycho is the one filming the action. Unfortunately as sick and twisted as this individual is, he is a whole hell of a lot smarter than his victims.
Similar to the fantastic MANIAC remake being told from a killer’s perspective, HANGMAN is told through the eye’s of and unknown assailant. Although in this particular tale, he finds an innocent family and discovers where they live and that they will be out of town thanks to a little technology. Once they return, their only knowledge is that somebody broke into the home. However, as the days progress they notice strange things happening that are seemingly minor. Whether it is the juice left on the counter, or a vase moved out of sight, there are hints of a strange disturbance in the household. And thanks to the opening scene, as well as seeing things through his eyes, we are well aware of the dangers that the family are soon to face.
Aside from placing the camera in the hands of the villain, the fact that this film uses very familiar actors is also fairly unique. Both Jeremy Sisto (TV’s Suburgatory, Law & Order, Six Feet Under) and Kate Ashfield (SHAUN OF THE DEAD) are talented actors who bring serious substance to a husband and wife unknowingly in the midst of a madman. Even the young actors who play the children in peril are recognizable, and both Ryan and Ty Simpkins give good performances. Then there is the Hangman, played by Eric Michael Cole. The actor takes on a character who is certainly sadistic, as well he is almost too realistic with a very depraved sense of humor. Even though the actor has no real dialogue, his grunts and moans more than qualify him as a massively f*cked up individual.
HANGMAN is a surprisingly well made feature from director Adam Mason (co-written by Mason and Simon Boyes). Yet at times, the tension feels a bit forced and the film drags. We see a ton of the killer as he eats their food, goes through their belongings, and getting his thrills off of watching the lady of the house. There is no doubt that he is scary, because it is clear that he is a dangerously psychotic. Yet, the limitations of the security camera images tend to get bogged down in the occasional melodramatic scenario he is witness to. And the film spends a tad too long watching him roam around the house when nobody else is around. It was also a bit frustrating watching the oblivious parents not paying much attention to the strange happenings. If my house had just been broken into, the police would probably get super tired of my calls after every strange occurrence for a least a while.
While HANGMAN may not be perfect, it is impressively unique, especially with the recent onslaught of uninspired found footage flicks. And one thing it did do right was get under my skin. I was truly bothered by the on-screen horror - the children being threatened was especially troublesome and admittedly a little repulsive to me personally. And even though so many poor choices were made by the parents, I still felt for the family being terrorized. It isn’t a bloodbath, nor is it gratuitous, but it is disturbing. This is the kind of flick that may make parents a little more paranoid than usual, so kudos for that. What sets HANGMAN apart is that it is well-acted and occasionally scary, and most definitely unsettling. While certainly not a masterpiece, it is an effective thriller.