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Hangman's Curse DVD Review

Written by Peter West

DVD released by Fox Home Entertainment

Directed by Rafal Zielinski
Written by Frank Peretti (novel), Kathy Mackel and Stan Foster (screenplay)
2003, Region 1 (NTSC), 106 minutes, Rated PG-13
DVD released on March 30th, 2004

Starring:
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

Movie:

Based on the successful kids' novel "The Veritas Project: Hangman's Curse" by Frank Peretti, Hangman's Curse begins with the suicide death of a troubled teen Abel Frye. Harassed by the jocks and despondent over the death of his only friend, Abel hangs himself at the school. Fast forward ten years and now the tables have turned. The jocks are still picking on other teens (Goths now), however it's the jocks that are now falling prey to a mysterious malady, plagued by visions of the late Abel Frye.

Called into investigate is the Springfield family, who works for a secret group called the Veritas Project (veritas the Latin word for truth). Father Nate Springfield (David Keith) takes a job at the school as a janitor, while mother Sarah (Mel Harris) runs the investigation from behind the scenes. Twin siblings Elisha and Elijah Springfield (Leighton Meester and Douglas Smith) join the student body to investigate from within.

Humor at the school is that the Goths call upon the spirit of the dead student Frye to get revenge on the current crop of bullies. Elisha hangs out with the "cool" kids and Elijah hangs out with the "nerds". While exploring the "forbidden" wing of the school (closed for 10 years since Able hung himself there) Elisha finds evidence of demonic rituals. Soon more jocks fall victim to the curse of Able Frye and Elisha and Elijah find that their own action may have put them next in line for the Hangman's Curse!

Review:

This is not the normal movie you would expect me to review. The target audience is 13-15 years old. The writer Frank Peritti specializes in novels for young adolescents. While I was not overly thrilled or kept on the edge of my seat by the story, I did find it a wholesome enjoyable movie to view. So much of the genre nowadays especially in films with a PG-13 rating concentrate on special effects and how much they can get away with to get a PG-13 rating, Hangman's Curse concentrated more on a interesting plot.

The real stars of this movie are the pair of Elisha and Elijah Springfield. Good role models, realistic school situations, this is the type of film that you would let a young teen see without reservation. The storyline is more like a Nancy Drew with thrills and some chills. If you're over the age of 17, you may want to pass on this one. If you want something for your teenager with good role models and a clever story this is the ideal type of film to buy/rent for them. My overall rating (for the target audience) 4/5

Video and Audio:

As they have been doing a lot of quite recently Fox presents Hangman's Curse in both a 1.78:1 widescreen and a full screen version. I don't know if it's a typo, but the full screen is listed as 1.44:1 ratio? The picture quality is absolutely fantastic as we should expect a modern film with a decent budget to be. The anamorphic 1.78:1 widesceen looks incredible on my 55" HDTV. My rating 4.5/5

The soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1, as well as a Dolby 2.0 surround. For most the movie it blends well with the scenes, it does not work as well towards the end. Clear and sharp, overall it's very good. My rating 4/5

Special Features:

Fox comes through with some goodies here! There's a featurette on Frank Peretti taking the project from page to screen, and a entertaining "making of" featurette on how the arachnid costars were handled. Of course there's a theatrical trailer as well. My rating 3.5/5

DVD Special Features:
- Side 1: trailer, featurette: Frank Peretti: from page to screen - runtime 10:37
- Side 2: Featurette: The Spider Wrangler: The Spiders of Hangman's Curse - Runtime 9:00
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen

Grades:

 
Movie: 4 Stars
Video: 4.5 Stars
Audio: 4 Stars
Features: 3.5 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

Want to comment on this review? Head over to the Horrortalk Review Forum.

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