ByBrendan Jesus, writer at
I am a Penn State graduate/model/writer/filmmaker/other stuff. I'll probably write about films, or something.
Brendan Jesus

It is without question the found footage genre has overstayed its welcome, but I look at it as a good thing. Found footage movies are like those one night stands from a party where at the time it seems like a good idea, and then you wake up 2 hours before them while they're snoring in your bed. In the horror community, and especially with my film friends, watching a found footage horror movie is looked down upon because you are just enabling the companies like Asylum and Alchemy (funny joke I think Alchemy is the parody company of Asylum, which is practically a parody company) to produce the junk movies they have been producing. Films like V/H/S (both the first and second, not the third), Afflicted, and Willow Creek have brought found footage into a new light, but it's still not enough to give them a lasting residence.

Strolling down the aisles of Best Buy I happened across a interestingly designed slip cover, at about waist level where any child could easily see, with a noose on it. My attention was peaked and I picked it up; an interesting font reads Hangman. Below and to the right of the title I read those 4 words which tickles the inner demon of all horror fanatics, "based on a true story." I flip the case over and read the boasting reviews, "TERRIFYING," and "...TRULY CREEPY." I jump right on to IMDb to check the user reviews, "yet another impressive film [by the director]." Now at this point I am practically jumping up and down in the aisle. I scroll up on the IMDb app to see who the director is, which is when I lock eyes with Jeremy Sisto. Fuck.


When watching a film your first goal is to suspend reality, which for some people can be a truly difficult thing to do. You must look at the screen, recognize that yes this may be Matthew McConaughey but at this moment in time he is Cooper, and only then can you go on the journey through space with him. Found footage movies take the first part of movie watching away, by being "found" videos. We're supposed to believe everything we see in found footage films is authentic, this dissolving the 4th wall and, hopefully, making the film more frightening. Could you imagine Interstellar as a found footage film? Yikes. When it comes to ridding the viewers of the 4th wall you show them people living their lives. And this is where Hangman does not pull ahead. Jeremy Sisto.

Have I yet mentioned the stars of this film? Jeremy Sisto and Kate Ashfield. You know Jeremy Sisto star of Clueless and Wrong Turn, and Kate Ashfield from Shaun on the freaking Dead? You cannot have big names in leading roles in a found footage film, unless they are playing themselves, and have it feel authentic. It is just impossible. Everything else in this film is pretty top notch. The violence is realistic, and the antagonist is truly terrifying.

Let's talk about the antagonist real quick.

He is merely credited as Hangman on IMDb, which I think is quite terrifying. He walks around with a form-fitting face mask type thing, without shoes or socks. Hangman set up cameras all around the house, leading to a monitor in the attic, where he is residing (without the knowledge of the family). The gimmick of found footage films is really done well here. Most found footage movies you're like, "why wouldn't they put down the camera," but when you're watching the film from the eyes of the antagonist you realize the antagonist would NOT put the camera down. The film is edited almost as if it was edited by Hangman himself amping the level of horror up by about 20%.

Though we still have a conundrum here, and that is the fact of the Jeremy and Kate. No matter how much horror Hangman put the characters through, he was still doing it to Jeremy and Kate, immediately bringing you out of it. At the beginning I was super impressed...for about 5 minutes when the joy of watching Jeremy and Kate perform finally wore off. I'm not saying they are bad actors, because they are not, all I am trying to get across to filmmakers is it's probably not best to have big name actors as the leads in your found footage film UNLESS they are playing themselves. With all that being said if you can get past all of what I just said, and it doesn't bother you then I say definitely watch the film.


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