The film version of Hangman's Curse is so different from the Christian teen thriller by Frank Peretti that fans might assume Peretti didn't have much say in its development. The surprise is that Peretti not only serves as a co-producer of the film—he also acts in it.

Of course, it's always easy to criticize films for not being as effective as the books they're based on. But most of the problems with Hangman's Curse seem to be directly related to its screenwriting. The movie is at its best in scenes taken from the book, but the story becomes clumsy and almost incoherent in changed plotlines and added scenes.

Both the book (the first in Peretti's Veritas Project teen series) and the movie follow a family of super-spies who investigate troubling crimes. In this case, they arrive at Rogers High School, where something is leaving popular football players delusional and on the edge of death.

Goth kid

Goth kid

Gossip in the school halls attributes the illnesses to the ghost of a bullied student named Abel Frye, who committed suicide 10 years before the current goings-on. But the ghost appears to be working under the commands of a persecuted Goth kid, Ian Snyder. Is witchcraft really leading to the illnesses? Or is there a rational, Earth-bound answer to the crimes? These are the questions that the Springfield Mom, Dad, and twins Elijah and Elisha are out to answer.

The movie veers from the book in added subplots (like a silly love story for Elisha) and, most puzzlingly, a different explanation of what's going on at Rogers High. The entire premise of the Abel Frye plot is changed, as is the motivation of the criminal mastermind. Peretti's original story told what happens when ridicule pushes someone to the brink—and included a godly solution. ...

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Hangman's Curse
Our Rating
2 Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for elements of violence/terror and for brief drug material)
Directed By
Rafal Zielinski
Run Time
1 hour 46 minutes
Cast
David Keith, Mel Harris, Leighton Meester, Douglas Smith
Theatre Release
September 12, 2003 by Fox Searchlight Pictures
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