The Gallows (Production Company Blum House Productions, Distributed by Warner Bros.)
Release date: July 10, 2015
Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford
Brief Synopsis: In 1993, tragedy strikes a town when a high school play called “The Gallows” goes terribly wrong. In an attempt to honor the twentieth anniversary of the incident, the present day students of Beatrice High try to recreate the production. Needless to say, things don’t quiet pan out the way most of the students anticipate.
My Take: Studios will release a trailer or two, run some T.V. spots prior to a films release to drum up interest and create a hype so people will go see their film. Some movies live up to the hype created by these two-minute miracles of editing. Some films, however, do not. The Gallows looked really good after I watched the theatrical trailer. Seemed like it would be creepy, some decent atmosphere and at the very least, nooses and hanging, to me, are freaky. Good horror films are far and few between. This particular scare fest (or lack of) falls far, far between. I am not one to spoil a film for anyone, so I will not give away any plot twists or anything of that nature.
Here is a real basic rundown of The Gallows. Student Charlie Grimille is accidentally hung to death during a high school stage production in 1993. Twenty years go by, and Charlie’s death is part of school folklore. For some reason (which sort of makes sense by the end of the film), the current students of Beatrice High School attempt to honor the tragedy by holding a performance of the same play, “The Gallows”, for one night only. Three students, Reese, Ryan and Cassidy (all played by the actors of the same first names) plan to break into the school to sabotage the play by trashing the set. This plan is hatched in the name of a crush that leading man Ryan has on his leading lady Pheifer. It is a really forced reason as far as the writing of the movie goes and makes it hard to take the whole thing seriously. Anyways, the four main characters end up getting trapped in the school by mysterious forces, which leads to supernatural events and a lot of shaky camera work. Although it is a “found footage” style movie, I still found it kind of bouncy. Usually with found footage stories you get a few good jump scares, some creepy images and some tension build up. Unfortunately with The Gallows, I got eighty some minutes of distracting dialogue, telegraphed and predictable startle scares and a lot of questions. Questions like ‘why are these kids filming this whole thing?’. Put the damn camera and cell phones down, come up with a plan, and run. Why go down the weird secret corridor? You know it is just going to lead to trouble. Also, are you aware that the supernatural can control your cellular service? No matter who your provider is!
In case you don’t know what gallows are, it is a structure used to hang criminals. A noose is placed around your neck and the floor falls out, leaving you to hang. It’s not cool, and quite frankly it is something that gives me chills. The thought of hanging by my neck, suffocating is horrible. This way of murdering teenagers should have been more primal and disturbing. It was actually more of an after thought once you have to sit through the rest of the nonsense. Predictable and cliche. The acting was decent enough, with the actors being relatively unknown by Hollywood standards. The Gallows did mark a milestone in cinematic history though. Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Cathy Lee and Frank Gifford, made her major motion picture debut. To be honest, she was far from the worst thing in this film. She did a good job of acting terrified. Scream Queen in training?
My friend Scott (moviedrivel.com) counted 4 or 5 people leave the theater halfway through the screening, and I don’t think it was because they found the movie terrifying.
To conclude, please do not be fooled by the trailer television spots for The Gallows. It is not as startling and scary as the ads would make you believe. I can recall being more scared during episodes of Ghost Adventures. And we know that isn’t very scary at all. I am aware that found footage, low-budget films are a profitable cash grab for studios, but The Gallows falls a mile behind its predecessors like Blair Witch Project, REC, and even Paranormal Activity. Alas, like in all things I discuss, I will let you decide for yourself.