HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:66
Home invasion thrillers are some of the most disturbing films out there in my opinion. It’s not because they’re always extremely graphic, or due to the fact that some of them are overly grotesque. It’s due to the fact that they strike a bit closer to home in terms of truth. Home invasions happen every year and they are some of the most terrifying experiences known to the average home owner. When you’re robbed you feel the most intense sense of violation that you’ve probably felt to date, according to leading research. However when your home is invaded when you’re there, it’s a thousand times worse. The terror is insane and that’s what makes these films work so well. It’s basically a fear that is made worse by the fact that it honestly COULD happen, and actually DOES happen to people all around the country coupled with the extreme sense of violation that occurs upon such an event.
“Hangman” uses the “Paranormal Activity” style of hidden film making and blends in a tale of home invasion that can go nowhere but to an untimely end. The film opens with dirty and grungy looking night time POV camera angle that shows a person walking through a house of dead family members, only to come up to a frightened woman and ask her “say you love me” before the camera cutting away. Shift to the next scene and the Miller family is going on vacation. What we see is through the eyes of killer as he watches the family go to the airport and get on the plane. Then we see as he gets their information from the car and breaks into their home, only to mess things up and just sit around watching their home videos and searching through their belongings. When the Miller’s come home they see the break in and immediately are frantic. Searching the home from top to bottom, they find nothing missing, and the police have no leads. So, despite feeling an uneasy sense of violation, the family starts to get back t o normal.
The thing is. The intruder has placed DOZENS of cameras throughout the home, hidden in every room. While the family thinks they are safe, it’s pretty obvious that the intruder is still keeping tabs on them. Soon the mother, Beth (Kate Ashfield), starts noticing weird things happening throughout the house. The toilet flushes on its own, and there is orange juice left on the counter that no one can remember getting in the middle of the night. Even though THEY don’t know, the audience soon comes to the realization that the intruder is not just watching them, he’s watching them FROM their own home. As the tale unfolds the killer stalks, watches and keeps tabs on every person in the house. Slowly getting to know their habits and exploiting them when he can. With every passing day, the intruder’s sanity is slowly slipping into obsession, leading him to create history yet again.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65042[/img]“Hangman” is a surprisingly entertaining film for a found footage/”Paranormal Activity” type of film. I usually HATE these types of films, but was actually rather enjoying the movie despite a lackluster second act. Taking a cue from “Paranormal Activity” the movie employs dozens of hidden cameras and low quality hand cameras to film the action. Although this time there’s no scary demons or hidden supernatural events to move the plot along. Instead the villain is a real live, flesh and blood human character. Immersing himself into the lives of his victims, the intruder finds a hidden spot in the house and just watches. Then watches some more. Manipulating his victims in slight ways, he slips in and around the house with dexterous ease, dropping little secrets from the family member’s lives into other family member’s way so as to instigate conflict. Soon the family is at each other’s throat, just compounding the knowledge that the villain is playing puppet master here.
The first act of the film sets up the mood, but the second act stumbles a bit. For the middle 30 minutes of the film all we’re doing is watching through the intruder’s eyes as the Millers go about their daily lives. It’s a bit mundane, and well, boring to be precise. We’re just watching them get up and shower and brush their teeth then go do what they do during the day. It’s during the third act that the film picks up the pace once again, with some surprising plot twists. It’s a bit dark and a bit disturbing, but I honestly felt that there wasn’t nearly as munch tension than other home invasion thrillers. I guess it comes from the detached nature of the cameras. We see what’s going on, but so little HAPPENS during that time period that we’re just left a tad bored. Still, that is also a positive, as you’re constantly wondering WHEN he’s going to strike. You know it will happen thanks to the opening shot of the film, but you’re left just wondering WHEN said moment will take place. This is where “Hangman” rises above the rest of the DTV horror world. It takes a very simple concept and mixes it with the junk that is found footage films and actually makes it pretty interesting.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65050[/img]The picture quality for “Hangman” is a bit hit or miss in terms of consistency, but that’s to be expected from a movie that is literally taken from over a dozen different camera sources, many of them low quality cameras that reside in the wall, or held in the hand. The opening scene of the movie is REALLY rough, as it’s using a digital hand held camera late at night. Then the movie opens up to a camera style that looks a lot more pleasing to the eye. It’s definitely a digital camera, but one of a lot higher quality as is evident the minute you see the scene change. Colors are warm and bright, and the detail is pretty good. However the movie is made up of an ever shifting array of camera angles and each one can look vastly different than the other. Some show detail better than others, and even more are at night with a sort of night vision look to them. Blacks can definitely be crushed and even though shadow detail is pretty good, the colors and green tinge to those shots is a bit of a crunch on the image quality. It’s a solid image, and interspersing the more “regular” camera shots help keep the video score from dropping lower.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=65058[/img]Much like the video, the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track is a tad inconsistent. You can go from a perfectly balanced sound to another camera where you’re hearing muffled voices yelling from across the house. Vocals can vary from really good, to a bit hard to understand and the track is decently balanced with a few good thumps here and there. Sadly, the movie just doesn’t seem to keep an intense score or have a lot of legs to stand on, so the intensity is sorely lacking. LFE is pretty mild, and only shows up a few times with a thump or a bang here and there to keep you jumping a bit. It’s a decent track, but nothing to write home about.
I won’t say that “Hangman” is a brilliant film. It’s not even a really good film, but it DOES manage to stay interesting and be a cut above others in the same genre. Movies like “The Gallows” use the same photography style, but end up being sooooooooooooo much worse, despite a higher budget and a theatrical release. The creepiness of having someone IN your home is enough to make the skin crawl. It’s a fun enough little movie that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for a pretty decent rental. Especially if you don’t mind the hidden camera aspect of the movie.
Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Kate Ashfield, Ryan Simpkins
Directed by: Adam Mason
Written by: Adam Mason, Simon Boyes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Main Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Runtime: 85 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 9th 2016
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