Review: “Hangman” Succeeds Despite Being A Found Footage Film



Title: Hangman
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Posted July 19, 2016 by

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It’s no secret that I can’t stand the found footage genre; if you read any of my reviews on said films they are, for the most part, unkind. When watching a horror film, I want to be scared, I want to be made to feel like the situation I’m watching could actually happen. That all gets taken away when someone’s running away from a killer and stops every few seconds to make sure they have the right camera angle or to risk their own life picking it up after they have dropped it. It never feels natural and is usually only used to make a cheap movie that will make a lot of money. Fortunately, “Hangman” does not use the found footage style as a crutch; instead utilizing it to make you feel like you’re spying on this family inside their home; watching them eat dinner, sleep, make love, have casual conversations on the phone. Adam Mason’s direction makes sure that you’re totally immersed in the story before destroying everything this family has built and he does so effectively.

Hangman is a younger guy that zones in on a woman (most of the time one that is already happily married and has a family) and becomes so infatuated with them he must watch them every second of every day. Hanging out at the airport, he waits for a family to leave for their destination before jumping in their car, hitting “Home” on their GPS, and setting up cameras throughout their house before residing in their attic where he can watch them without being detected. When the Miller’s return home, they find that an intruder has been there, making a mess and sleeping in their beds. He’s violated their privacy and now they don’t feel entirely comfortable in a place that used to be their safe haven. Hangman will attempt to break them down psychologically (i.e. leaving a carton of orange juice on the kitchen counter every night after they clearly put it back in the fridge before bed) before he makes his final assault that, as we see in the beginning of the film, can potentially leave a family murdered and the Hangman wanting the woman he obsesses over to declare their love for him.


This film is not just about a psycho terrorizing a family. It’s about a disturbed man that has deep-seeded issues and this is the way that he deals with them. He’s smart, quiet, crafty, and extremely dangerous. Throughout the film, we watch him try to fight back his own demons, try to get his aggression out in other ways, before finally succumbing to the fact that this is something he will have the desire to do for the rest of his life; or until he’s caught. I liked that Boyes and Mason didn’t make him trip up or make a stupid mistake; it’s clear right away that this guy has done this same thing time and time again. He’s honed his craft and is flawless in his execution. It’s what creates the tension in this film: that he’s so good at stalking a family and tearing them apart before attempting to kill them.

After you watch this movie, you’re going to want to check all of your home’s crawlspaces, closets, bathrooms and bedrooms. The found footage aspect gives you the feeling that this kind of thing could happen to you and you wouldn’t even know about it. Someone this cunning could be watching you read this right now and you wouldn’t be any the wiser. Every time you feel comfortable in this film, it’s immediately ruined by imagery that you won’t be able to shake for quite a while like when the Miller’s are sleeping peacefully in their bed and when the camera refreshes Hangman is standing at the foot of their bed, nylons over his face, watching them quietly.

Mason and Boyes are not content to make things unexpectedly pop around corners, people screaming out of nowhere, or playing tense music just to get you to jump. They scare and unsettle you with tense imagery and by planting the feeling that at any moment you could be being attacked by a silent killer. It’s effective and what makes this independent horror movie really stand out from the rest in its genre. “Hangman” should be studied by other directors on how to terrify an audience in a creative way that doesn’t cheat the viewer out of a scary experience. Watch this film, and then check behind every door and under every bed.






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