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David Keith as Nate Springfield
Mel Harris as Sarah Springfield
Leighton Meester as Elisha Springfield
Douglas Smith as Elijah Springfield
Bobby Brewer as Leonard Baynes
Daniel Farber as Norman Bloom
Edwin Hodge as Blake Hornsby
Andrea Morris as Crystal Sparks
William R. Moses as Coach Marquardt
Frank Peretti as Algernon Wheeling
Jake Richardson as Ian Snyder
Margaret Travolta as Debi Wyrthen
Tom Wright as Dan Carillo
Stephanie Brush as Ms. Frye
Kristin Cowan as Karine
Frank Peretti: From Page To Screen" Featurette
"The Spider Wrangler: The Spiders of Hangman's Curse" Featurette
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
English and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 106 Minutes
This film is based on the novel by Frank Peretti.
Ten years ago, a student picked on by bullies hung himself in an abandoned part of Rogers High School. Now in the present day, the students at the school believe that the ghost of the boy is still haunting the corridors. On top of things, they believe that he's attacking bullies that pick on the Goths and Geeks among the students. As more jocks are struck down, the administration calls on special help to aid the police in their investigations.
Members of the Veritas Project are brought in to investigate the situation. The Springfield family is part of this secret society of paranormal investigators. They go undercover at the school to try and discover what is really going on. Teens Elisha and Elijah pose as students and try to find out the details of the supposed ghost. But as they dig deeper, they discover that there's a lot more going on than previously thought. They also discover that their very lives are in danger.
Hangman's Curse is rated PG-13 for elements of violence/terror and for brief drug material.
When this movie arrived at my house, I knew absolutely nothing about it. Looking at the cover, I expected it to be some sort of teen supernatural horror flick. While the movie starts out looking like that, it quickly turns into something much different. It swings into a family spy movie, a teen X-Files / Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew ripoff, a Beverly Hills 90210 drama, a ghost story, a satanic drama, then Arachnophobia. Rarely have I ever seen a movie swing through so many genres in one sitting.
I then noticed in the ending scene that they had all the characters standing in a circle saying a prayer. I thought that was odd, then I remembered that there was no profanity or real violence in the whole film. Only when I saw the DVD extras did it hit me – this is a Christian based movie. I didn't realize that the author of this story was the same guy that wrote "This Present Darkness," a well known Christian fiction novel. The intention of the movie was to be a clean, family friendly horror movie with a moral message. As honorable as that intention is, it's doesn't change one fact – this film really sucks.
First of all, the acting is terrible. I would say that it is on caliber with TV acting, but that's not accurate. It's more B-Movie caliber. The line delivery and dialogue by every single character in the film is so awkward that I cringed repeatedly. In fact, I had to turn the movie off and walk away from it a few times just so I could make it all the way through. David Keith is about the only well known actor in the bunch and even he can't make the dialogue look good. Leighton Meester is pretty and tough as Elisha Springfield, but even her beautiful face can't make the story any more bearable. Frank Peretti even has a role as the eccentric professor Algernon Wheeling. However, the guy is a complete and total spaz. (And as you see in the DVD extras, he appears to be that way in real life, too.) He overacts and ventures well into the realm of comedy, something that doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the story.
Moving on from the acting, the story is just plain stupid, too. Why is this family helping the cops with investigations and drug busts? Why are these teens trained by the FBI? Then there's the dramatic left turn the movie makes when it goes from supernatural horror to Arachnophobia at the end. Suddenly the school is overrun with mutant spiders and it doesn't fit the rest of the movie at all. I could go on and on, but there's little in this film that makes sense. It's about as logical as a Scooby Doo episode.
One of the other baffling aspects of this movie is the fact that it was produced by Ralph Winter, one of the producers behind the X-Men and Star Trek movies. I'm not quite sure how he got roped into this B-Movie, but I expected better from him based on his previous track record. He generally does great stuff.
In the end, I'd only recommend this film to people that have read the books in The Veritas Project series. Even then, though, you'll probably think the book is better than the movie. I don't think anyone else will appreciate it.
There are a minimal number of DVD extras included here:
"Frank Peretti: From Page To Screen" Featurette – In this feature, author Frank Peretti talks about having his book made into a movie, how it compares with what he had in his mind, and what it was like playing a role in the film. He shows, as already mentioned, that he's as big a spaz in real life as his character. There's a lot of behind the scenes footage filmed by Peretti's wife. We see him play a banjo with David Keith, clown around behind the scenes, and more. There are interviews with the cast and crew as well. If you're a fan of Peretti's, you should enjoy this.
"The Spider Wrangler: The Spiders of Hangman's Curse" Featurette – This was the more interesting of the two featurettes to me. In it, the guy in charge of all the spiders on the set talks about how he takes care of them, makes them act, etc. It's fun to see the actors freak out as well when the spiders crawl on them.
The Bottom Line:
Hangman's Curse is a pretty bad movie. It's safe for young teens, but not very high in the quality department.