Digital Review: Hangman (2015)

hangman-cover-art2Distributor: Alchemy

MPAA Classifcation: Not Rated

Director: Adam Mason

Starring: Jeremy Sisto, Kate Ashfield, Ryan Simpkins, Ty Simpkins, Eric Michael Cole

Hangman was released to Blu-ray/DVD and VOD in 2016 but made the circuit of film festivals in prior years. It was directed by Adam Mason, written by Adam Mason and Simon Boyes and stars Jeremy Sisto, Kate Ashfield, Ryan Simpkins, Ty Simpkins and Eric Michael Cole. Distributed in the US by Alchemy, this movie came out of nowhere for me. It’s like putting on a record by someone you never heard before and being totally blown away you spend the next few months talking incessantly about it. Hangman is one of those films for me. Did I forget to mention that it is found footage? So I did, but it’s not a shaky camera; it’s worked through the home camera angle so the camera work ends up being very creative and pretty solid.

The plot is straightforward and I don’t want to comment to much about it. This is a movie that with each watch a minute detail is noticed and the shivers run up your back all over again. Let’s just say this about the plot – someone is watching a family through a series of hidden cameras, so even though this is “found footage” style, the camera work does not follow The Blair Witch Project template but rather the Unfriended template of fixed cameras. It really adds to ambiance of the movie. I have heard many friends talk about this movie alongside Creep, another found footage film out last year. This movie gave me a new eye to examine Creep by, and, if I’m honest, to examine all horror movies. Something clicked for me in this movie that was dormant before and I am grateful to Hangman for that, so much so that I have done a turn around on Creep. At its core, isn’t this what art is supposed to do? It tweaks and plays with your emotional make-up, leading to greater appreciation of the many art mediums and pieces life has to offer.

There is very little gore in this one, it’s all understated and implied. A truly wonderful way to tap your imagination and make worst possible scenario play its way out on the best canvas of all, your mind. This is movie of the mind and the frame it captures generates the most primal of visceral and creepy reactions I have had in a long time. I can’t remember being this uncomfortable on a second and third watch since the original Martyrs. For me, this one just ticks all those emotional boxes and somehow manages to do it right in front of you and often without noticing. It’s only when you think about it a few minutes later the “Holy shit, did that just happen?” thoughts start and you start looking around in the dark.

Two well-established actors star, Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield. I am very familiar with Mr. Sisto’s work and for those that don’t know, he is a prominent US TV and movie actor and plays all his parts with the dedication and professionalism we see in role of Aaron. The cast is small and dependent on each other to create emotion and atmosphere and boy, does the cast deliver that. Even the villain, played by Eric Michael Cole, plays his part well. Mr. Cole added the necessary ingredient much like Tony Moran did in his build up shots as Michael Myers in the original Halloween. Subtle, Effective and damn threatening.

Hangman is a blueprint on how to shoot a found footage movie. It captures and shows that, when in the hands a skilled crew, found footage can add layer upon layer of things that will gnaw on your mind for days to come. This film does what a true found footage is supposed to do, and that is scare the hell out of you. Experience this in the dark, volume up and not knowing a lot about how the story unfolds. Days later, little thoughts will pop up into your mind and, like I said earlier, the cold chills will start again. This is a must-see and I only hope that this entire cast is holed up somewhere plotting their next move; not a sequel but a new adventure in true terror.

Hangman

US Release Date: 9th February 2016

Alchemy – Official Website

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