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Film / Hangman's Curse

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Hangman's Curse is a 2003 adaptation of the 2001 novel of the same name by Frank Peretti starring David Keith.

At Rogers High School, two football players have been sidelined by vivid hallucinations of Abel Frye, a former student of the school who is rumored to have killed a popular girl in the school before hanging himself. After a third player starts hallucinating, the Springfield family gets brought in to investigate under the aegis of the Veritas Project. Nate Springfield (David Keith), the patriarch of the family, masquerades as a janitor while Elijah (Douglas Smith) and Elisha (Leighton Meester) pose as students and Sarah (Mel Harris), their mother, handles the science end of things.


Elijah and Elisha quickly find that a group of goths, led by Ian and Crystal, seem to know more than they let on, and may actually be choosing the targets for Frye. Things get complicated as Elisha starts to fall for Blake, one of the few jocks who haven't fallen prey to the curse.

This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Artistic License – Biology: Primarily regarding Arachnology:
    • Yes, Kenyan wolf spiders do exist. However, their venom is harmless to humans and African spotted wolf spiders don't exist.
    • Yes, there are spider hybrids. However, they seldom occur between two such different species.
    • Related to the prior point, larger spiders typically have weaker venom, not stronger.
  • Asshole Victim: The jocks and their coach are seen either bullying, or enabling bullying, the goths.
  • The Bully: All of the jocks are shown to be bullies, pushing kids into walls, extorting money, and calling them names.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: There are several clues as to the identity of the killer
    • Early in the film, we are introduced to a student familiar with African species.
    • There is a photograph in the film of Abel Frye, showing a younger boy associating with him.
    • Once the clue of the dollar bill is introduced, one can see which character is planting them.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: When a series of somewhat contrived events result in Ian standing before a crowd of students with a noose around his neck, he decides to step off. His attempt is foiled by several people rushing in to hold him up and prevent him from choking. He later realizes just how much he stood to lose had he succeeded.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Blake starts out as bad as the jocks, but his attempts to impress Elisha lead to him turning a new leaf.
  • Hybrid Power: The hybrid spiders have the size of the wolf spider and the deadly venom of the brown recluse, and breed extremely rapidly.
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  • Jerk Jock: All of the jocks are bullies. Blake starts to get better as the film continues.
  • Spiders Are Scary: One of the reasons Norman is unpopular is because he's fascinated by spiders and snakes.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: All of the spiders are actually played by harmless species such as the Chilean rose tarantula.