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Movie Review

Hangman's Curse

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for elements of violence/terror and for brief drug material.

Reviewed by: Ben Cornish

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Suspense
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 12, 2003
DVD: March 23, 2004
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox

high school bullying

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

hanging in the Bible

ghost seeking revenge

Satan and Satanism


urban legend

good versus evil


entomologist, entomology—insects of the Bible

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

Teen Qs—Christian Answers® for teenagers
Teens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

undercover christian

family relationships




How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

If God made everything, who made God? Answer

What does God say? Answer

Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Featuring: David Keith … Nate Springfield
Leighton MeesterElisha Springfield
Frank Peretti … Dr. Algernon Wheeling
Douglas Smith … Elijah Springfield
Mel Harris … Sarah Springfield
Jake Richardson … Ian Snyder
Bobby Brewer … Leonard Baynes
more »
Director: Rafal Zielinski
Producer: Namesake Entertainment
North by Northwest Entertainment
The Total Living Network
Ralph Winter … producer
more »
Distributor: Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox

“Watch your locker. Watch your back. Watch your soul.”

Copyrighted, Namesake Entertainment, 20th Century Fox

A little bit of “Spy Kids”, a whole-lot-a “CSI” and a dash of “Arachnophobia” converge in “Hangman’s Curse”, a film adaptation of author Frank Peretti’s book The Veritas Project: Hangman’s Curse.

Something is wrong at Rogers High School. Several students are close to death, and it is widely blamed on the curse of the “hangman,” Able Fyre a former student who hung himself in school ten years ago. Able’s ghost is now rumored to roam the halls and seek revenge for the years of torment he suffered as a student. As the curse continues to pick off members of the football team, the school calls in the Springfield family.

The family is part of the Veritas Project, a specially trained investigative team, and they immediately immerse themselves into the school community to help solve the mystery. As the mystery continues to plague the school, and threatens one of their own, the family works to reveal the “truth” behind the assumed spirited curse.

Given that the source of this film is Christian author Peretti’s book, this suspense-laden film avoids many characteristics of a typical PG-13 film. Foul language, sexual undertones, the common taking of God’s name in vain and overt violence are instead replaced with solid story telling. The film avoids preaching as well, and allows the audience to piece together good and evil as the film progresses.

There is a battle between three conflicting cliques (jocks, geeks, goth) and each finds themselves both victim and tormentor of common bullying. The film aptly displays the consequences of judging others by outward appearance and reminds the audience that appearances can be deceiving.

The primary message is clear, and as one character puts it: “Fooling around with spirits is a dangerous thing.” The impressionable students become so fixated on the curse of the hangman, that it consumes their thoughts, and they are fooled by its artificial power.

As Christians, the Springfield’s display their faith through subtle actions, especially as the kids, going against the norm, show compassion to the unloved of the school. Late in the film, one of the characters recites a Psalm for comfort in a time of need.

With likeable characters and a cast that delivers honest performances (Peretti appears as an over the top professor who is called in to assist the family), “Hangman’s Curse” is engaging and suspenseful enough to hold any audience. Parents should note that with two suicides, one attempted suicide, one attempted murder and a ritual scene in a “witches den” (complete with chanting, candles and black cloaked students) some material may be inappropriate for younger children.

Violence: Mild | Profanity: None | Sex/Nudity: None

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—“Hangman’s Curse,” from the producer of the first “Left Behind” film, tells an eerie tale of the average teenager’s battle against evil. The acting was believable enough (especially the always excellent David Keith), and the director did a great job of creating suspense and fear in all the right places. The only real qualm I have with this film is that, although some parts were frightening enough, it is difficult to convey true fear without shying away from Christianity—therefore, Hangman’s Curse does not terrify.

That being said, I am happy to say that the producers have created a frightening, well-acted film. Highly recommended!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—Nathan Rossin, age 23
Positive—I have not watched “horror” shows since becoming a Christian. This show has all the thrill and edge-of-your-seat scare tactic as any scary movie. With the clean movie script, you were really able to get into the movie. I found the movie highly scary, thinking it was going to be a spiritual warfare showing satan, demons, etc. As I was reading some of the feedback, I realize what I thought was the “lack” of religion in the movie did not come off as such for others. Other than a couple of places I really felt Jesus could have been introduced to others in the movie I thought it very tasteful and VERY eye-opening. I was bullied most all of my school years and wish there would have been someone to take me under their wings.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Kathy, age 40


Comments from young people
Positive—Great movie. I LOVED it. Having faced similar bullies that some of Elijah’s new friends faced, I know that everyone needs to see this movie. This movie is a eye opener for some of my friends who go to other schools. You see stuff like that every day but it never really means anything until you get hit with the effects of it. Anyway overall it was a great movie…
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—Erin, age 14
Positive—This movie revived my interest in Christian movie making. Ever since I saw Left Behind, I was kind of upset that they had not followed the book series in most respects. Hangman’s Curse basically follows the book. It has no language; no suggestive themes, and mild violence. Hangman’s Curse successfully tells a story of Christian teenagers and a Christian message. I would suggest that any one with a love for horror films, but not all the junk that usually goes with it, go and see “Hangman’s Curse.”
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Jennie, age 16
Positive—I already saw this movie in the sneak peak on the 11th of august in nashville and it was really good. They special effects and the acting is very well played out. One of the things that is great about this movie is they didn’t throw Christianity at you yet had a christian understanding tied into it. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who likes horror movies (cause it will scare you at points) and people who like to see movies w/o sexual content and language.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4]
—Devin G, age 13
Positive—I saw this movie like two weeks before it came out with Frank (the director himself) and the movie ROCKS!! Its like pretty scary but nothing offensive about it at all. If you see one movie a year go see this one!!!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—David, age 16
Positive—I loved this movie and book it was good and very good looking Jake Richardson is in it which helps a bit. It was very good acting and the spiders were like real (I am aracniphobic) so really were they real? Oh, well any way it was good.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Anna Rowling, age 16
Positive—I LOVED this movie! I saw it twice! There wasn’t anything bad in it. it was just a lil scary and some people wouldn’t like it! I can’t wait to get it on DVD!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Stef, age 16
Positive—I LOVED the book and the movie is even better!!! It follows the book really well but, they had to cut out somethings of course. This movie is the BEST I’ve seen this year!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
—Mardi, age 12
Positive—I loved it!! After all the poorly made christian movies out there, this one hits it right. It’s somewhat scary and may not be for extremely your viewers, but it had no swearing! I find that quit amazing. I know that it is a christian production, but to have a PG-13 movie with no sex or swearing is really nice. …pretty good acting with cool story.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/3]
—David, age 15
Positive—I love this movie! My mom surprised me with it for Easter. …Some of the girls Elisha hangs out with need some extra acting lessons, but, all in all, the movie was great. I loved, that, when Elisha was being bit, and almost dies, she quotes from Psalms, and sings a little of “Jesus Loves Me.” I also found out that most of the actors a Christians, very happy about that!
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—Tara Wilson, age 13
Positive—This movie is a very good christian film and it was somewhat enjoyable. There were parts that were pretty scary. But then it end up being spiders that caused all that stuff. I thought that was really dumb. Other than that the movie was great. Except for the ending.
My Ratings: [Good/2]
—Matt F., age 13
Positive—From a Christian’s perspective, this was a good movie. What I liked about it is that its good for a Christian audience as well as a non-Christian audience. It was scary at times but also funny at times. I liked this movie. Only watch it if you like some scary stuff.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/4]
—gideon johnson, age 14
Positive—I loved this movie. It totally rocked. I loved the portrayal of the characters. The message that I got out of this was really awesome!! This is now my favorite movie. I loved all of the characters because some of them were known, and some were not known. I think the producers and director did a very good job of re-enacting the book. It was very close. Even though the “Able Frye” story, was one that most kids could not relate to, they could definitely relate to the bullying. That was the whole reason behind Abel Frye. He was bullied. I think that the movie did a very good job of telling how kids are bullied and what some outcomes may be. People don’t realize that when other people are bullied, they may take extreme actions to stop the pain. People need to stop the bullying and concentrate more on people’s feelings. So, as a result I definitely loved this movie. I give props to Frank Peretti.
My Ratings: [Excellent!/5]
Positive—I loved this movie! I think that people expect Christian films to be all safe and nothing bad or scary happening, but this movie really turned that idea around. I love that it was a horror movie, yet it didn’t have the swearing and the profanity and all that other bad stuff in it. But if you are like spiderphobic… you might want to stay away from this one! Go see it or rent it!
My Ratings: [Good/4]
—Schib, age 13
Positive—This movie was wonderful. It had a good point behind it and is limited on violence. There is one time though that shows the shadow of someone hanging himself but that’s all. But if you have a fear of spiders don’t go to this movie. I liked the spiders but I’m an 11 year old boy! There are many parts that will make you jump so don’t show this movie to anyone under the age of ten. The actors were great and the only sexual content was a quick kiss. If you haven’t seen this movie you need to see it. You’ll love it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Kyle Parks, age 11
Positive—I loved this movie!!!… It was the BEST!!!… I think some of Elisha’s friends could do a little better on their acting, but that’s all. I think it was great that not only did Frank Peretti help with the movie, but also acted in the movie. I liked the spiders, but hey, I’m 10! I’m a girl too, but girls can like bugs can’t they? I would only watch this if you like really scary movies. If you’ve read the book, I would think you should read both books in the series. I really liked it…
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Elisha, age 10
Positive—I liked the story in the movie itself. However, I would not recommend this movie under 15 (but that is my recommendation) Sometimes you get “scared.”

We do have to remember that there is such a person as Satan. Sometimes to make a point in a movie you have to use the “scarier” facts of our Christian lives. But I for one am glad that there is also such a “person” as Jesus Christ. I am sooooo thankful that, thanks to him, I have no reason to be scared, as said in the film. (Psalm 23)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality:
—Graeme, age 14 (United Kingdom)