Unlike a lot of people I know, I don’t mind the found-footage genre. The first Paranormal Activity and Man Bites Dog uses it really well. I have yet to see Unfriended, but have heard good things about it. When used right, these films can make you feel like you’re experiencing these events, firsthand. When used incorrectly, you just feel like you’re just watching some boring home movie. Hangman falls into the latter category.
Here is the main concept. A masked man with no real motives breaks into a home while a family is away on vacation. While there, he sets up a series of cameras and begins recording everything. We know from the very start of the movie that he has killed before so when it cuts to a family getting ready to leave for vacation, we have no doubt that he will kill again. We just haft to wait for over an hour before he starts doing anything.
What I don’t understand (and the movie fails to explain) is how this intruder is able to go unnoticed for so long. He lives in their attic and no one hears any type of movement up there at all. The cops even investigate the space after the break-in and they can’t find anything either. I thought he was just somewhere else recording everything but no. He is actually living in their attic. The son even tells his mother that he’s been having dreams about the masked guy who tells him an intimate story about their friends and she doesn’t find it a bit odd. The daughter and her boyfriend have run-ins with this guy taping them and they don't tell anyone about it. Yes, they were being private at the time it happened but she doesn't say anything more about it to anyone. There are a few moments where the intruder is in plain sight and if someone just turned their head slightly, they could see him, but this guy must be psychic so they don’t.
A good horror/thriller should have two things to get me invested in the story. It should have an interesting villain and a compassionate protagonist. Hangman offers neither. The family, which features actors Jeremy Sisto (May) and Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead), are very basic and generic. They are the type of family you see in a cereal commercial or a canceled TV pilot from the Disney channel. There is no depth to any of them at all, and the only real arguments they have are about who left the orange juice out last night. The intruder himself is also really bad because he comes off more like a cry baby rather than someone to fear. Before he begins killing anyone, he does nothing but watch these people and cry. I’m not kidding; for over an hour we are watching this guy record the most dullest family ever and then watch him cry about it as well. Not the greatest combo to build fear and suspense with.
Earlier I watched a movie called The Black Tape (you can read my review of that one here) which also featured a killer stalking a family, but in that one. The characters were a lot more interesting and it made sense why the intruder was able to go unnoticed for so long in that one. The Black Tape had a much lower budget and didn’t get picked up by any major distribution company and I wonder why Hangman did. The concept of a guy stalking a family was interesting enough but it had nothing else going for it to keep me entertained.