UK Release Date: 17th July 2015
Runtime: 81 minutes
Director: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Writer: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford, Jesse Cross
Synopsis: A group of unruly teenagers break into their school late at night in an attempt to scupper the opening of the school play, which led to a student’s death last time it was performed.
It’s with a sigh and a heavy heart that I wander into the cinema to see the latest found footage horror film. There seem to be more found footage films released each year than all of the other horror sub-genres put together. This time, it’s the corridors of a school after dark that form the backdrop for terror in The Gallows, which could well be the abysmal nadir of a genre that was pretty dire to start with.
Jock kid Reese (Reese Mishler) is taking the male lead role of the school play in order to get close to his crush Pfiefer (Pfiefer Brown). Last time the play was performed, the boy playing Reese’s role (Jesse Cross) was accidentally hanged on stage. Determined to sabotage the play, Reese and friends Ryan (Ryan Shoos) and Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) break into the school and begin to dismantle the set. Pursued by an angry Pfeifer, they find themselves locked in as a vengeful spirit takes exception to their presence.
The Gallows is a pitiful collage of found footage clichés that manages to make its sub-90 minute running time feel endless. The “why are they still filming?” issue is never addressed, with characters actively passing the camera to each other in order to position it for the next badly orchestrated scare. Every moment of the film appears to be assembled in absolute cynical contempt for its audience.
| "I don’t get you drama nerds. It’s like good luck is bad luck and breaking a leg is meant to be a good thing."
Particularly irksome is the fact that the central concept of The Gallows is an interesting one. The notion of a school play dogged by the horrors of the past has plenty of scare potential, as does the foreboding image of the silent gallows on the stage throughout the film. However, directing duo Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing are far too preoccupied with meaningless jump scares and panicked close-ups to make the most of this potential.
It doesn’t help that the cast are exactly the kind of infuriating youngsters that American frat comedies seem to be dominated by. Ryan Shoos’ sex-mad jock is our major viewpoint character and his poisonous attitude is an absolute chore to watch. Much of the film’s early stages are devoted to Shoos pointing the camera at beautiful women and proclaiming them to be ugly drama “nerds” in insufferable fashion.
The rest of the cast are no more convincing, delivering their dialogue without even an iota of confidence or characterisation. By the time the final plot twist comes along, it is performed with such a lack of energy and gravitas that it barely even registers as a surprise before giving way to the now obligatory final jump scare.
| "If you don’t bail on this show, you let everyone down and they all hate you."
There’s simply no imagination on show in The Gallows. It’s a creatively bankrupt outing that continues to highlight the laziness that has infected found footage horror. In a film landscape in which intriguing independent releases struggle to spend any time in crowded multiplexes, it’s genuinely depressing that slapdash dreck like this makes it way onto screens.
Pop or Poop?
Without a creative bone in its body and with relatively few scares to speak of, The Gallows is an example of found footage horror at its laziest.
The cast are wooden in roles that give them very little in the way of humanity. By the time the final twist becomes clear, it’s really hard to care.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.