DIRECTOR: Adam Mason
Eric Michael Cole
After the Miller family returns home from their sunny vacation. They find that their home has been broken into and ransacked. After they spend the day cleaning up the mess and moving on with their everyday lives. They soon begin to feel like something isn't quite right as strange occurrences start happening and their young son claims to be seeing someone in his nightmares. Is the person who is responsible for the break-in still in the house?
My previous review was for the very similar Found Footage movie Ratter. Just like the movie Ratter, Hangman is very similar regarding the plot. The only difference between both movies is that this film involves a family of four and not a single female student. This film is also slightly nastier when dishing out the brutal violence. The entire movie though is a step for step regarding how things flowed and where both of these movies end up landing by the end credits.
When Hangman begins, we are thrown straight into the murders of a random couple. Nothing is given to the audience, and we are then introduced to the Miller family. The Miller family are that typical, run of the mill, nuclear American family. Both the loving mother and father with a good relationship and the annoying, fighting teenage sister and her younger brother. The story is indeed held together by the central relationship and characters played by Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield.
The film slowly builds for the first hour and twenty minutes. We as an audience are shown little glimpses of the stalker, and it's revealed pretty early on that our villain is living in the house. So for most of the running time, we are well aware that the killer is inside the property and the family has no idea. The opening scene and a few follow-up scenes do reveal the killer to be one who strikes and attacks his victims without remorse. These scenes while not overly violent have a disturbing element to them.
The disturbing elements don't end there with this calculating killer. The killer has a habit of masturbating while spying on the parents as they make love. He's incredibly voyeuristic towards the family. There is also a scene where he kills a male teenager which comes across as pretty nasty. What hangman does that I quite enjoyed is that they never reveal who our killer is even at the end of the film. The fact we are never shown his face makes him that little bit more creepy.
We also have an odd scene where the teenage daughter is using a vibrator. We never see her using it, but when her room is turned upside down by the stalker, he leaves it out for her father to find. It's almost as uncomfortable and weird as the scene where the intruder likes to masturbate to the parents having sex. I did like the fact that the parents discuss it and play it off as a joke as they are almost as embarrassed to know that their teenage daughter is coming into womanhood. It's a scene that adds a bit of character and levity to this dark story.
While I enjoy the fact that we never see who the killer is, it ends up being a double-edged sword in the sense that we are also never given the reasons behind why this guy kills families or what turned him into this disturbed, voyeuristic killer. The only moment we see involves the killer saying 'Say you love me'. I'm sure this choice is also meant to add a sense of bleakness to the overall tone of the film, but I actually wanted to know why he did it in Hangman.
I didn't personally find Hangman to be all that scary or suspenseful. The ending is very much like Ratter where the film gets most of its tension from the conclusion of the movie. It's pretty dark and disturbing. It comes out of the blue and just ends on such a depressing note. It's also the movies winning moment. Both films while slow on the build-up, manage to deliver in their final scenes. For that, this movie gets a few points from me.
Lastly, the performances are also great in Hangman. I really enjoyed the chemistry between both Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield. Both felt like an actual married couple. So it actually works when cheating allegations are thrown into the mix. You also feel very sorry for the couple when the end of the movie strikes. I really thought both of the actors worked well together. The biggest shock regarding acting is witnessing the extremely underrated Amy Smart in a cameo scene that lasts all of one minute. She deserves better than this bit part.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A couple of corpses are seen hanging from a noose.
- Someone is shot in the head at point-blank range.
- A couple of people are repeatedly stabbed.
- Someone is suffocated with a plastic bag.
Hangman is hit and miss for me. After watching the very similar Ratter, I found both have quite similar elements. Both are very slow burn in their build-up toward a rather dark ending. The end of the movies both are the elements that made me enjoy parts of the film. The performances are also worth noting from both films. Hangman is just slightly more violent. Both are worth a once off watch but you'll either love or hate both movies depending on their endings.