THE GALLOWS (USA/15A/81mins)
Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Starring Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and Cassidy Gifford.
20 years ago, a student died during the high school production of a high school play, ‘The Gallows’. To honour the anniversary, and to finally see the play performed in its entirety, the students stage a production of the same play, unwittingly setting a tragic and violent series of events into motion.
There are certain things that make a good horror movie; tension, scares and truly engaging psychological or paranormal stories. The Gallows has none of these, instead relying on loud noises and things happening off camera to keep the audience on their toes.
The cast, made up of Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos and Cassidy Gifford, are never given a chance to make their characters anything more than vessels for the story (such as it is), and strongly adhere to the high school stereotypes we have seen on screen before; the jock, the bully, the nerd and so on. None of the characters are remotely fleshed out, and more than one of them are incredibly unpleasant, leaving the audience wondering why we should root for them in the first place.
The story, written by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing, appears to take every horror movie cliché that ever there was and lob them at this film. There are so many daft decisions made by the central characters that the audience cannot help but wonder if they have any sort of common sense at all. The reason for the haunting and the murders is thin at best and the jock getting his comeuppance, while his pretty girlfriend is left to scream is something we have seen a million times before.
As directors, Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing spread the action throughout the film well enough, but the decision to use found footage, then have two cameras telling the story – which, we are told, is taken from police files, so how is it edited?! – means that the pacing and the intrigue of the story suffer. As well as this, there are some truly terrible performances here, with a lot of ‘hands in the hair’ acting going on. There are some creepy and well done shots, but these are too few and far between to make up for this uninspired and un-scary flick.
In all, THE GALLOWS is as clichéd and unoriginal as a horror movie could ever be. Surely the found footage style of filmmaking fell out of favour years ago, leaving THE GALLOWS feeling unoriginal, uninspired and definitely not scary. Bangs and crashes are not the fabric of a good horror movie, and that is about all that is on display here. Not smart, and definitely not scary.
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Gallows
Review by Brogen Hayes
  • filmbuff2011

    Supposed found footage horrors, just like the torture porn sub-genre of horror, are well past their sell-by date by now. It’s time for modern horror to try something different. But yet Hollywood keeps churning them out, expecting audiences to find something fresh and original in them. The Gallows is strictly by-the-numbers stuff. In 1993, a school theatre production of period piece The Gallows goes horribly wrong when one of the students is accidentally hanged in front of audience. Fast forward 20 years and some bright spark has decided to re-stage the same play in the same school with a new generation of actors. There’s Reese (Reese Mishler), Pfeifer (Pfeifer Ross), Ryan (Ryan Shoos) and Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford). One night, Reese and Ryan sneak into the school and decide to sabotage the production in order for Reese to get closer to Pfeifer. Bad idea. They’ve stirred something, or perhaps someone, up in the dark corridors of the school. A hooded hangman stalks them, threatening to stick a noose around their necks. Who will survive the long night ahead? Made independently and with the backing of Insidious producer Jason Blum, The Gallows tries desperately to impress but falls flat on its face early on. Not much happens until about half way through and even the best scare in the whole film is actually a fake scare. By the time we get to the actual stalking and dying bit, it’s a clear case of been there, done that, seen better. The Gallows has nothing new to say, with co-directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing falling over the same hurdles as many found footage horrors. The characters are bland and unlikeable, the acting is generally poor and the scares are signposted in advance (with thanks to the trailer, which is full of spoilers). The only decent thing about it is the last few minutes, which is admittedly strong and tense – recalling the likes of Paranormal Activity and Sinister. But that’s not enough to save what is a unremarkable and instantly forgettable horror. Wait for the DVD, which is where it should be in the first place. **