The Gallows full movie review - A slightly above mediocre horror tale, but still not very good.
Spring 1993: During an ill fated high school play called "The Gallows" a high school senior Charlie Grimille dies when the hangman's noose around his neck tightens after he falls through a malfunctioning trap door.
In 2013, a drama class at the same high school decides to revive the play. Arrogant football jock Ryan is walking around holding a camcorder ridiculing his former classmates, picking on other students & giving his buddy Reese a hard time over ditching football for acting class. Not that anyone can blame Ryan for trying to get his good buddy Reese to forget it, since Reese is a very bland actor & seems only to have gotten the role based on how popular he is & not due to any acting chops on his part. When he learns his buddy is only joining the class so he can get close to his high school crush, the lead actress named Pfeiffer, he convinces Reese to join him & his cheerleader girlfriend into breaking into the school & destroying the set, which Ryan believes will cause Pfieffer to fall into Reese's arms in solace when she sees the set in shambles. Reese agrees to this & the three break into the school to vandalize the set, while there, they hear a noise in the hall & find Pfeiffer roaming about the halls, looking for them after she spots their cars parked outside. When they return back to the stage, they find that the destroyed set has now been mysteriously repaired & that the back door they used to get into the school is mysteriously locked tight, as is every other door leading outside. Soon they are stalked & killed by Charlie's ghost, bearing the Hangman costume & mask, who still walks the halls of the school, brandishing his trusted hangman's rope which he uses to hang them when he picks them off one by one.
THE GALLOWS is yet another film in a very long (not to mention overdone) series of found footage horror films that tries unsuccessfully to mix the slasher genre with the found footage angle. While this definitely would have been a fresh approach to the usual tired supernatural plot line, with most if not all other found footage films dealing with thee usual ghost or demon entity run amok or a Bigfoot like plot, it drops the ball. There is no gore to speak of, which usually accompanies the slasher genre & the supernatural elements are somewhat muddled. The film proves that it really is no different than the vast majority of found footage horror movies, as it relies on the usual loud noises, things popping into frame & doors locking & unlocking & then mysteriously opening by themselves, the shaky hand held camera work etc. it just goes through the motions & hits every cliché button associated with the found footage film, as a result the film winds up predictable & bland like the vast majority of found footage movies. The characters couldn't be more unlikable, weather this was a result of poor writing on the film-makers part, thinking we would show pity & sympathy for these cocky youths, or intentionally done this way so we would cheer them being offed is not known. The direction is all over & the film even goes so far as to rip off a scene from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, by having a runny nosed, tearful girl pick up the camera & staring straight into it, you half expect her to start apologizing for what she's done & go on about how she loves her family, but it doesn't. The supposed twist ending (which I won't spoil) just feels silly & out of place & was definitely not needed.The problem with the found footage genre is that it's a complete fools errand, it's just not very believable sub genre simply because the logic behind it makes zero sense, I mean who would still keep videotaping events, when their lives were in danger as they are being pursued by an evil entity or monster, especially if they are struggling to get away like climb up a ladder for instance & needed both hands to do so, instead they hold a camera with one hand so they can videotape what is pursuing them with the other? Thanks to how cheap the format is, any film-maker & non film-maker can make a found footage movie, they don't need to hire a composer, a special effects artist or have any professional lighting, not even a boom mike, you just hire some actors, turn on the camera, follow the usual tropes one would see in a found footage movie & voilia you're set!
On the plus side the film like most found footage movies is mercifully brief, clocking in at an 81 minute running time & the film does show some promise when the kids first break into the school, with the weird spooky going on's happening, which adds some good suspenseful moments & Charlie makes for a pretty good villain with his tragic back story fairly well put together & his presence always add to the film.
All in all, THE GALLOWS is far from being terrible movie, compared to most found footage junk cluttering up the horror movie genre it's fairly watchable, but I'm still wondering why the film got a theatrical release when there's really nothing all that special about it that separates it from the millions of others being made. Maybe it's because I've seen so many of them that have played out the same that THE GALLOWS winds up being underwhelming. If the film had been made & released during the very early stages of the found footage movies, it might have had some impact, as it is, it remains a watchable horror movie nothing more, nothing less. Much like THE STRANGERS, this film would have been better left as a short film.