Before I start with my – quite critical – analysis of the movie, it’s only fair to note that as someone who’s very critical of this “found footage” (if you can even call it that) style of movies, who hardly ever work for me (“The Blair Witch Project”, “Cloverfield” and “Willow Creek” are the main exceptions that come to mind), I went into “Hangman” with a heavy dose of skepticism. And at least in my case, I’m sorry to say that it failed to prove me wrong.
Let’s start with what I liked: The fact that the gun in the house didn’t make them any safer. The daughter got 2-3 nice lines (“You’re such a racist!” and her Minority Report-reference come to mind). And yeah, that’s about it. My main beef with “Hangman” is that I found it to be incredibly boring. Because of the setup of the film, you just know that not much of significance will happen for most of its running time. For example, the family will not find the intruder, and on the other hand, you know exactly that mostly, he’s going to leave them alone. Otherwise, things would escalate too quickly, and the movie would be over too soon. Which made the scenes with him standing around or when he’s about to get caught completely devoid of any tension. And actually, instead of scary me or at least making me feel uneasy, I found many of the scenes where he walks around the house, eating a sandwich etc. unintentionally funny (am I the only one who had to think of the fairy tale “The Story of the Tree Bears”? “Who ate from my plate? Who slept in my bed?”).
Another big problem of the movie is that instead of making us guess what it is that he wants, what he’s up to, and where this ultimately is going to lead – which would have inserted some much-needed intrigue which might have made the long stretch until the showdown slightly more bearable and entertaining – we see right away how he kills the previous family. After that, you just wait for it to happen here, and actually, sooner rather than later, I begged that he would finally get around to it, so that the movie would be over at last. Which, I’m pretty sure, isn’t what Adam Mason intended. Also, the intruder depended on quite a lot of luck – and stupidity – in order to not get caught way sooner. For example, why isn’t the police searching the attic? Wouldn’t Beth notice a big fat box (or whatever it was the intruder was hiding behind) which is standing there suddenly? Why the fuck is no one ever turning on the lights? And don’t even get me started on their son seemingly not being able to tell dream from reality (he was far too old for me to find that even remotely credible). Usually, one of my major beefs with such movies is that the footage obviously has been edited, something that consistently drives me mad. That this – while noticeable here too – was the least of its problems, already tells you everything you need to know about “Hangman”. I seldom, if ever, have been that bored by a movie in my entire life. Do yourself a favor and watch the thematically similar – and vastly superior – “One Hour Photo” or “Sleep Tight” instead.