UK filmmaker Adam Mason director of ‘Broken’ and ‘The Devil’s Chair’ and the gob-smackingly shocking ‘Pig’, is known for gruelling, brutal and often explicit horror films.

This year, he hits the London Film4 Frightfest with ‘Hangman’, a film that combines his signature style of skin-creeping fear with the stylised use of found footage and POV cameras that is becoming synonymous with horror films. However, although Mason adept in creating those unnerving can’t look away from the screen moment, in ‘Hangman’ he seems to have replaced the viciousness and graphic gore with straight up psychological thriller vibes.

A creeping sense of dread runs throughout ‘Hangman’ and Mason has encapsulated the two themes that make found footage films truly terrifying when delivered correctly: suspense and familiarity.

Starring American everyman Jeremy Sisto [Clueless, Wrong Turn] and indie-flick Brit babe Kate Ashfield [Shaun of the Dead] ‘Hangman’ sees va family unwittingly playing host to a malevolent intruder who’s broken into their home whilst they are on their summer holiday.

The Miller family return to find their home has been broken into but nothing has been stolen so with the reassurance of the police they write it off as a prank or an opportunistic vagrant looking for a place to crash. However, their intruder is still in the house – remaining unseen, while watching their every move on surveillance cameras he’s installed creeping out in the night or when the house is empty to wreak havoc on the family’s idyllic set-up.

The reason this home-invasion thriller meets cameras in the house a la Paranormal Activity works so well is because it is familiar and relatable. ‘Hangman’ captures the humdrum with a superbly cast and believably ordinary family – it could happen to anyone is what was screaming out at me from the outset.

That’s Mason’s chilling spin which will surely provide him with some box office success. Sure Paranormal Activity et al is scary to a certain extent, but, supernatural is for many cinema goers something other, something that only happens in films. An intruder in the house hiding in the walls or in the loft is guaranteed to make your skin crawl because you can’t explain it away with, ‘that doesn’t exist’ and ‘it couldn’t happen’. The fear of an intruder in the home is something any audience will relate to.

Same goes for the seemingly mundane changes in the home that the family explain away – it’s something that happens in every household. Juice carton left out? Furniture moved? Small things that you assume somebody else did yet nobody will own up to – you’d never imagine these subtle changes to be at the hands of a man living in your loft attempting to mess with your mind in the most petulant of ways.

Using these and other means to notch up tension in the home — which he continually watches unfold from his hidey-hole on monitors — the intruder also continually risks discovery, seemingly daring the Millers to trigger that moment when his secret occupancy turns into a full-on bloodbath. Some of the most unnerving sequences here are ones in which masked intruder ‘Jimmy’ stands just outside the sightline of the oblivious Millers, his detection (and their lives) hanging by a thread that will break if they simply turn around at the wrong moment.

The chilling realisation that someone can seemingly move seamlessly unseen in your home will have audiences checking under their beds and in the wardrobe for days after watching ‘Hangman’. Horror fans, or more specifically Adam Mason fans, may be left a little bit dissatisfied because as I mentioned previously there is not much in the way of brutal blood, guts and gore making this a firm horror-thriller hybrid. There are enough creepy moments to keep the tension and I’m happy to say Mason hasn’t opted for a series of faux-jumpy moments to make sure his audience is still awake. With a POV set firmly from the gaze of the crazed intruder staying gripped is not a problem.

Another standout feature in ‘Hangman’ surprisingly is the soundtrack. Both diegetic and non-diegetic music is carefully chosen and adds to the atmosphere well. Standout use of music is when the tense game of cat and mouse finally comes to a head…

Frightfest London review: Hangman
4.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.