Hangman's Curse (film)

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Hangman's Curse
Hangman's Curse FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Rafal Zielinski
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Hangman's Curse
by Frank Peretti
Music by David Bergeaud
Cinematography Dan Heigh
Edited by
  • Mary Morrisey
  • Tiffany Wallach
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • September 12, 2003 (2003-09-12) (US)
Running time
106 minutes
Country US
Language English
Budget $2,000,000
Box office $168,406

Hangman's Curse is a 2003 horror suspense film based on the 2001 Christian novel Hangman's Curse, written by Frank Peretti. The film stars David Keith, Mel Harris, Leighton Meester, and Douglas Smith, with a cameo by novelist and Northwest native Peretti. The filming took place in Spokane, Washington, with interior and exterior shots of John R. Rogers High School. Additional exterior shots were filmed at nearby Riverside State Park, as well as Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Plot summary[edit]

The film is set at John R. Rogers High School in Spokane, Washington. Ten years prior, student Abel Frye, a victim of bullying, had committed suicide by hanging himself on the school property. Fast-forward to the current day, when several student football players (who are also school bullies) are mysteriously becoming gravely ill. Just before falling into a coma, each victim is heard screaming the spirit's name, Abel Frye. In an effort to get to the bottom of the haunting, the school turns for help to the Veritas Project, a team of highly trained investigators who work undercover to unravel the truth about paranormal activities. The Veritas Project consists of the members of the Springfield family, including father Nate (David Keith), mother Sarah (Mel Harris), daughter Elisha (Leighton Meester), and son Elijah (Douglas Smith).

The high-school students in the film represent various social classes or youth subcultures, including jocks, geeks, and goths. Prominent among the students in the film are members of the goth culture, who worship the ghost of Abel Frye. The goth students are led by Ian Snyder (Jake Richardson). Unbeknownst to the rest of the school, Norman Bloom, a young geek Elisha befriended, is Frye's nephew. In retaliation for the bullying and mistreatment inflicted on the different students, Bloom exacts revenge on the popular football players.

Bloom's plan includes gaining access to the locker of each targeted bully and placing a deadly male spider, trapped in a straw, inside the locker. Bloom then gives the bully tainted money, upon which he has secretly placed trace amounts of female spider pheromones. When the unsuspecting bully reaches into his locker, the waiting male spider is easily attracted to the pheromones, and then crawls out and bites the student. Among the effects of the toxin, the affected students experience hallucinations, believing that the ghost of Abel Frye is after them.

At one point, Bloom accidentally puts an additional female spider in one of the straws, which results in thousands of deadly spiders overtaking the school. Elisha Springfield, attending the school undercover as a student, eventually figures out the mystery and the diabolical plot designed by Norman Bloom. In fear of being discovered, Bloom attempts to keep his involvement in the haunting hidden by poisoning both himself and Elisha with a spider, hoping that they will both die. When Elijah figures out that Bloom is behind the sinister attacks in the school, he races to find his sister and the Springfield family rush to professor and scientist Dr. Algernon Wheeling (played by Peretti), who saves Elisha with an antivenom. In the end, the students at Rogers High School are protected not only from haunting and harm from others, but from the harm brought on by their own hatred and fear, as well.


Audience reactions[edit]

Although based on Christian author Frank Peretti's book of the same name, the movie differed substantially from the novel. As a Christian film, the Hangman's Curse avoids many characteristics and clichés of a typical horror film. The script remains devoid of foul language, sexual situations, overt violence, and character dialogue which takes the Lord's name in vain. At the same time, the director avoids using the film as a vehicle for preaching or proselytizing and allows the story to speak for itself. Viewers are afforded an opportunity to unravel the mystery and focus on the story and ramifications of good versus evil for themselves. While the members of the Springfield family are clearly presented as Christians, their faith is displayed subtly, through their lifestyles and moral actions taken in the face of difficult ethical situations, such as showing kindness and compassion toward others. The most overt message of faith comes toward the end of the film, when one of the characters recites a verse from the Book of Psalms for comfort. Overall, the film presents the consequences of judging others by outward appearances, reminding the audience that looks can be deceiving.

The storyline explores suicidal ideology, with two scenes portraying completed suicide, along with one attempted suicide and one attempted murder. Additional scenes include portrayals of students exploring and acting out rituals involving the occult. The movie received mixed reviews. Christian Spotlight on Entertainment gave the film three out of five stars, stating that the quality of the movie was "good".[1] Crosswalk Movie Reviews also rated the film as "good".[2] Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a negative review with an average of 2.9/10.[3]


  1. ^ "Hangman's Curse (2003) …review and/or viewer comments • Christian Spotlight™ on the Movies •". Christiananswers.net. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  2. ^ Holly McClure, Movie Reviewer (2003-09-12). "Culture - Movies". Crosswalk.com. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  3. ^ "Hangman's Curse". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 

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