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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
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(2003), PG-13 [R-13*] (1hr 44min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
October 17, 2011
October 18, 2011

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2003), PG-13 [R-13*] -- I felt uneasy comfort with the film ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Witness Entertainment, Namesake Entertainment, Total Living Network, North by Northwest Entertainment
Distribution (US): Fox Home Entertainment
Director(s): Joe Goodman
Producer(s): Steve Buhai, Rich Cowan, Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz, Kelly Neutz, Frank Peretti, Jerry Rose, Ralph Winter
Written by: Frank Peretti
Screenplay: Kathy Mackel, Stan Foster
Cinematography/Camera: Dan Heigh
Music: David Bergeaud
Film Editing: Mary Morrisey, Tiffany Wallach
Casting: Dean E. Fronk, Donald Paul Pemrick
Production Design: Vincent DeFelice
Art Direction: Mike Cassell
Viewed on Fox Home Entertainment DVD

While working up the Entertainment Media Analysis Report pages after watching this DVD ofHangman's Curse I felt it was reservedly acceptable but something about it was unsettling. I felt uneasy comfort with the film, comfort which was probably due to the fact there is no profanity, no one gets into bed with anyone and no teens scream obscenities at their parents which are all typical of PG-13s nowadays (which just goes to show you what Hollywood and the MPAA think of "teen"), but yet uneasy due to the presentation of teen suicide in and as entertainment ... again. I subjectively felt the content of Hangman's Curse was deserved of maybe a hard PG-equivalent score but not the PG-13 the MPAA slapped on it. But after crunching the numbers I find the content of Hangman's Curse earned scoring equivalent to many R-rated films; that it is indeed a strong R-13. This just goes to show you how the CAP analysis model (the Findings/Scoring section) could not care less about my personal opinion of a film.

In the story select citizens are commissioned by the government to investigate strange happenings, crimes and other unusual circumstances including claims of paranormal activity. These undercover agents are known as the Veritas Project. "Veritas is Latin for truth."

The Veritas team of this story consists of a family: the father, Nate Springfield (David Keith); the mother Sarah, (Mel Harris); the daughter, Elisha (Leighton Meester); the son, Elijah (Douglas Smith). Each is trained by the FBI to perform specialized services of crime fighting and tactics, hand-to-hand combat, arrest techniques and more. The Team is sent to John R. Rogers High School to investigate the strange death of Abel Frye (George Humphreys) who hung himself in the attic of the High School. Abel had reached his limit of hateful and brutal tormenting by the school "jocks."

Ten years after Abel's suicide, students begin dropping ill in their tracks They first hallucinate and turn violently ill, thinking they are seeing Abel and call out his name then fall to unconsciousness requiring life support.

There is one common thread to all the strange illnesses: each of the victims were tormentors. They tormented the class scientist, Norman Bloom (Daniel Farber) and a group of goth/punk kids who tried Satanism/witchcraft to protect themselves from the tormentors. But in their efforts to protect themselves, the goths became the prime suspects.

Teenage Elijah and Elisha serve as infiltrators into the High School population to discover everything they could about the forces behind the mysterious illnesses. Dad became the school janitor to be in the perfect position to observe with relative invisibility. Mom is the research element of the team with the help of research lab specialist, Professor Dr. Algernon Wheeling (Frank Peretti - the author). Together Nate, Sarah and Dr. Wheeling discover and identify some strange substances in the lockers of the victims. Also found scratched through the paint on the inside of the locker of each victim is a stick figure image of a man being hanged: a hangman. One day a hangman appears in Elisha's locker.

If you watch this film and the High School principal Debi Wyrthen seems to bear a resemblance to another performer, she should. She is John Travolta's sister, Margaret Travolta.

Please inspect the individual content investigation area discussions below and the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to let your young ones watch this film. Is it not a Christian film any more than any other film that has a prayer or two and a token "Christian" song at the end. Salvation through the Gospel of Jesus is not even mentioned in the film.


Following are brief discussions of the content per individual content investigation area. As always the Findings section of this report is the best source for discovering the full accounting of the content of this film.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
The film starts out with a long sequence of Abel carrying a noose through the halls of the High School to the attic to hang himself. That fairly well sets the tone for the sometimes submerged theme of the show but the content includes some matters of violence outside of suicide. In a subplot there are several firearms pointed at heads and faces, some of them teen. Bullying is a key element of the story. Additional elements of the violence content of this film include teens drawing images of hanging, talking of murder and suicide, physical assault and pursuit to do harm. There is enough violence content in this film for it to earn a zero out of 100 score, not so much because of the intensity of any particular portrayal of violence but because there are so many "lesser" examples of violence and violent matters. There are so many that the best way to learn of the violence content of this film would be to inspect the listing in the Findings section. This discussion area does not lend itself well to discussing all the examples.

The reason I need some space here is to let you know of God's feelings about violence. Of the more than 50 verses where God speak darkly of violence, Proverb 16:29 is a good one with which to summarize. In Proverb 16:29 God warns that violence is "catching" and can lead one "into the way that is not good." Then, several hundred years after God warned us about violence, man plagiarized God's Word by four professional public health agencies jointly publishing their findings which warn that violence in and as entertainment can, among other things, lead the observer into real life violence and can lead the observer to feel that violence is an acceptable means of settling conflict. So, God warned us through His Word about violence. Professional public health agencies have, probably without knowing it, agreed with God's position regarding violence. But do we listen? Need more? Take a look at 1 Cor. 15:33.

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
While no one speaks profanity, the film is filled with teens exhibiting arrogance and rebellion by embracing goth, Satanism and witchcraft. In the end, key goth practitioners indeed come around to their senses and leave the lifestyle, but we must always temper Hollywood's attempts at redemption with the understanding that a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path. [Ps. 7:16, 2 Tim. 3:1 - 5, Gal. 5:19 - 21]

Sexual Immorality (S) - 78 out of 100
There is no nudity in the entire 104 minutes of the film nor does anyone get in bed with anyone else. But one of the characters throws a booty call at Elisha. And there is dress on some of the High School girls that would get the wearer sent home to change into something less revealing and/or provocative. One of the male teachers puts his hands on a couple of the girl students. There is also a flash scene of a teen in his underwear.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 90 out of 100
There is no alcohol or tobacco anywhere in the film but part of the beginning of the film is a drug bust of teens dealing in illegal drugs with felony intent to distribute. [Hab: 2:9]

Offense to God (O) - 13 out of 100
Since goth embraces Satanic and unholy practices, any display of goth in the film is considered the same as display of witchcraft, sorcery, occultism and similar offences. The film is riddled with scenes of goth characters and goth practices, including a Satanic ritual and use of effigies hanging by the neck. [2 Tim. 3:1 - 5, Gal. 5:19 - 21] A teacher "teaches" moral relativism by telling his students that "right and wrong should be left up to the individual" as if there is no standard of right and wrong: as if God's Word is vapor. God's name is abused twice. [Deut. 5:11]

Murder/Suicide (M) - 81 out of 100
Two students commit suicide. One by hanging (graphically) and another by poisonous spider bite. Some contend that suicide cannot be a sin because of whatever reasoning while no one seems to question murder as being wrong. Let me remind our readers that suicide, as heinous and as horrible a tragedy it is, is murder of the self.



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  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. [The issue is the violence, the 'way that is not good' no matter how "small" or "fantasy" or "justified" the violence might seem, and its "leading" effect on the observer. "A violent man" can be any character of any age, any gender, human or not in the act of committing (demonstrating in the case of entertainment) violent behavior/action whether for good or evil OR the violent behaviors/actions themselves. Such exposure can and does embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. It took years for the American professional health community to finally affirm, probably without knowing it, that which God told us in 1 Cor. 15:33 below. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit for more information. Their findings include:
    --> Children who see a lot of violence are more likely to view violence as an effective way of settling conflicts. Children exposed to violence are more likely to assume the acts of violence are acceptable behavior.
    --> Viewing violence can lead to emotional desensitization towards violence in real life. It can decease the likelihood that one will take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs.
    --> Entertainment violence feeds a perception that the world is a violent and mean place. Viewing violence increases fear of becoming a victim of violence, with a resultant increase in self-protective behavior and a mistrust of others.
    --> Viewing violence may lead to real life violence. Children exposed to violent programming at a young age have a higher tendency for violent and aggressive behavior later in life than children who are not so exposed.
    Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV.]
  • Ps. 7:16 The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.
  • 2 Tim. 3:1 - 5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection [astorgos: unsociable, inhuman; homosexuality, bestiality, etc.], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce [anemeros: brutal, sadistic], despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof [e.g., Sunday-only and counterfeit Christians]: from such turn away.
  • Gal. 5:19 - 21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this [and remain unforgiven] will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Hab. 2:9 Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as in slang or profanity. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion and in praise and prayer is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title. So, trying to excuse such expressions with "I was talking TO God/Jesus when I said that" or It's just words" or "I was acting" will not work with Him. Nor will "Everybody says that" excuse the sin of using His name in vain. If everyone on the planet who has ever drawn a breath used His name in vain, it would still be a sin to do so. If no one ever did, it would still be a sin to do so. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.]

    Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry

  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend what is vile, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it.]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Hangman's Curse (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • the selection cursor at the beginning of the DVD is a hangman's noose
  • long sequence of a teen carrying a noose
  • firearm threats at teens, repeatedly
  • petty theft, repeatedly
  • physical bullying, repeatedly
  • defensive maneuver violence
  • drawing of hanging with head twisted
  • talk by teen of murder and suicide
  • teen drawing a hanging
  • physical assault
  • pursuit to do harm, repeatedly
  • defensive assault
  • teens victimized by illness, repeatedly
  • teen attempting suicide by hanging
  • scenes of terror by spiders
  • threat to kill by blade
  • a death by spider attack
  • teen fall with injury and endangerment
  • teen unconsciousness due to spider venom
  • teen girl with multiple spider bite injuries

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • defacing school property, repeatedly
  • facial piercing, repeatedly
  • goth/punk, frequent
  • teen arrogance, repeatedly
  • teen threats at other teens
  • unauthorized entry by teens, repeatedly
  • verbal bullying
  • comment of just being different to excuse goth/punk
  • "I hope all of them die" by teen
  • lie
  • "I hope they rot in Hell" twice
  • teen cutting protective suit to enable access by poisonous spiders

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 78 out of 100
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure by High School girls, repeatedly
  • booty call by teen
  • male teacher handling girl students
  • flash of teen in underwear

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - 90 out of 100
  • drug deal with felony intent to distribute

    Offense to God (O) - 13 out of 100
  • suggestion of unholy mental control, repeatedly
  • teaching that prayer in school is wrong
  • images of demons and evil, repeatedly
  • effigy of hanging by the neck, repeatedly
  • hallucination of evil, repeatedly
  • "right and wrong should be left up to the individual"
  • Satanic ritual site
  • teens performing Satanic ritual
  • play of Satanism in High School

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 81 out of 100
  • suicide by hanging
  • suicide by spider

    Interested parties, send us your proposal. Your link will appear on each new analysis report prepared during the desired period and, once placed on a page, will not be removed.

    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    * CAP Equivalence to MPAA Rating Scale:
    Please note our new manner of indicating a film's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating in comparison with the CAP equivalence such as "PG-13 [R-13]." The first term is the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) rating. The second term [in brackets] indicates that which the film earned under the CAP analysis model. In the example, "PG-13 [R-13]" indicates the MPAA rated the film PG-13 but the film earned a CAP final score in the scoring range earned by R-rated movies in the comparative baseline database. Other comparative terms used might be "PG [13-PG]", "G [PG-G] or even 'PG-13 [PG]" as was the case for Alien vs Predator. I doubt there will ever be a "G [R]" used, but only time will tell. The CAP analysis model is Rock-solid. The MPAA is not.

    The current CAP to MPAA** nomenclature is:

    For G rated Films with
    G equivalence: G
    PG equivalence: PG-G
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-G
    R equivalence: R-G<
    For PG rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-PG
    PG equivalence: PG
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-PG
    R equivalence: R-PG
    For PG-13 rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-13
    PG equivalence: PG(13)
    PG-13 equivalence: PG-13
    R equivalence: R-13
    For R rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-R
    PG equivalence: PG-R
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-R
    R equivalence: R
    For NR rated Films with
    G equivalence: G-NR
    PG equivalence: PG-NR
    PG-13 equivalence: 13-NR
    R equivalence: R-NR
    ** G, PG, PG-13 and R are registered trademarks of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

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