The Veritas Project: Hangman’s Curse (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Veritas Project consists of the Springfield family—their job is to work with local law enforcement undercover in order to discover the origins of unusual happenings in small towns.  Their next job is to go undercover at a high school that seems to be haunted by the curse of a teen who hung himself inside the school one night.  Seemingly random deaths keep happening that are tied back to the hanging and to dark happenings at the school.  Will they be able to get to the bottom of it before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

Like many early 2000s productions distributed by Fox Faith, Hangman’s Curse has its high points and its issues that keep it from being all it could be.  For example, the video quality is unnecessarily grainy and there is poor lighting throughout.  However, the sets, locations, and props are realistic and appropriate.  Audio quality is fine except for the cheesy soundtrack and the cheap sound effects that are dubbed on top of the normal audio.  There are also a lot of very juvenile horror-related special effects that are actually quite annoying.  Finally, the editing is fairly choppy as scenes end abruptly, off-screen content is referred to often, and transitions do not flow well.  In the end, it’s possible that this production team’s budget was not ready to handle a sci-fi\horror film, so they might should have rethought this effort.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though Frank Peretti knows how to craft an interesting enough Christian horror\sci-fi plot, Hangman’s Curse crams too much content into a short amount of time.  This stunts character develop and forces dialogue to be rushed and packed with information.  Sometimes the premise of this ‘horror’ concept is hard to believe and is even a little silly at times.  We are supposed to treat the issue as serious, but it is difficult to do so because it all seems too shallow.  There are too many very cheesy half-attempts at horror that are more annoying than effective.  Like too many sci-fi plots, this one relies too heavily on the ‘twist’ and the concept revealed near the end rather than actual character development.  It’s hard to care about what’s going on when it all rushes by so fast all in the name of solving the mystery in under two hours.  In the end, some will find this story interesting, but it does not appeal to every audience.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The casting and acting of this film are definitely its strong suit.  Though there is nothing truly dynamic about the cast members’ performances, they are also not detracting or negative.  Their emotions are mostly believable and their line delivery is professional.  This should be the baseline for acting in Christian film.

Conclusion

Frank Peretti has always been a genre pioneer in Christian entertainment.  He went where other Christians were afraid to go and opened up a whole new world for both writing and movies.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with his work, this particular film does not capture it well, and this could be due to the early days of Christian productions.  Perhaps if this film were made today, it would be better.

 

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points

 

The Imposter [2008] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Johnny C is a wildly successful Christian rock star with a dark past.  He knows how to entertain Christian crowds and how to say the right things, but he still struggles with the demons inside him.  He has had a secret addiction that he constantly lies about and consistently has struggles in his topsy-turvy marriage.  When he finally can’t hold it all together and his world comes crashing down all around him, he has no one to turn to except for God.  Left with virtually nothing, will Johnny be able to pick up the pieces and start over for real?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

As an early 2000s production, The Imposter seems like a film searching for identity.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really find it.  In attempts to be artistic and ‘creative’, strange production conventions are embraced, such as shaky camera work and very dizzying special effects.  Audio quality is fine, and the original soundtrack is intriguing, but there are too many songs, musical montages, and confusing music videos.  Lighting is also inconsistent, especially in some outside scenes, which are too bright.  Furthermore, editing is choppy and makes the story hard to follow.  In the end, while there was adequate money spent on this production, it is mostly wasted and disappointing.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Though The Imposter is not afraid to deal with difficult yet realistic issues and to take an honest look at Christian ‘stars’, it’s just not enough.  The constant narration stunts character development.  They need to be deepened through improved dialogue because it’s difficult to understand why they do what they do—the characters seem to be too swept along by circumstances.  Unfortunately, some of the Christian characters are portrayed as too high and mighty.  Also, too much of the messaging is heavy-handed as the story jumps all around and is somewhat hard to follow.  The story seems too aimless and sometimes lacks purpose and even hope.  However, the ending is interesting and realistic, although it lacks proper buildup and leaves something to be desired.  In summary, The Imposter is an honest look at life, but at the same time, it lacks the true authenticity that is required to properly deal with the issues dealt with here.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Though this is a ‘popular’ Christian cast, they are fairly unconvincing and sometimes appear to be phoning in their performances.  Emotions are too unrealistic and all over the place.  Sometimes the performances are fine, but on the whole, these cast members are without direction and need better coaching in order to reach their full potential.

Conclusion

Movies like The Imposter start with good intentions but without a real focus on where they are going, their plots wander aimlessly and try to use Christian ‘celebrities’ as crutches for their mistakes.  There are some poignant issues portrayed in this film that need to be discussed in the context of Christian entertainment, but as this movie is, it just comes off as unserious and sometimes unprofessional.  You need more than a base idea and some ‘big name’ cast members to make a good film.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points