HANGMAN [FrightFest 2015]

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Wait, why are they still filming all of this? Because a vicious serial killer has broken in and installed hidden cameras all around the house, of course. And with that fell swoop, Hangman sidesteps a sticking point that has dulled the impact of many a found footage film throughout the years. It's an ingenious, bafflingly underutilised idea too – found footage from the perspective of the villain. Well here it is, and the results are every bit as creepy as one might hope. Or fear, as the case may be.

It helps that the would-be victims of the piece are Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield, so likeable in their respective output thus far. Such films usually tend to skew towards unknown actors, but our familiarity with Sisto and Ashfield (plus the fact they can actually act) only makes us more sympathetic to their plight. It's like a Paranormal Activity version of the Tooth Fairy murders in Red Dragon (or Manhunter, from which it borrows a genuinely unsettling atmosphere).

Like so many films of its ilk, most of what it does is in setup for the final five minutes, but oh, what  a waiting game it is. The ratcheting of the tension is agonising, from the moment our hidden psychopaths strips off his boots and socks in anticipation of what is to come onwards. There are few surprises to be had here, only a depressing sense of inevitability as the final confrontation beckons. Some may call it predictable, but it's agonising watching this very real home invasion movie play out, and disturbing in a manner we haven't seen since the original Paranormal Activity (that's a compliment, honest).

With The Den, Unfriended and Open Windows, there's a sense that found footage is a subgenre evolving. While that's largely for the best, Hangman proves that the traditional format can still work given the right story and mechanics. The fact that this one will stick with you for days afterwards should testify to the fact that Hangman most certainly does have these things. This one will leave you terrified of your own home, jumping at every creak of the floorboard or bump in the night. And God help you if you happen to live in a house with an attic.

CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ADAM MASON / SCREENPLAY: SIMON BOYES, ADAM MASON / STARRING: JEREMY SISTO, KATE ASHFIELD, RYAN SIMPKINS / RELEASE DATE: TBC


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