The Gallows - Guillotines Were Always More Fun, Anyway

Matthew Parkinson | 11 Jul 2015 12:00
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Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Produced by Jason Blum, Travis Cluff, Benjamin Forkner, Chris Lofing, Dean Schnider. Written by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Release date: July 10, 2015.

Thus far in 2015, Blumhouse Productions has released The Boy Next Door, The Lazarus Effect, Area 51, and Insidious: Chapter 3. Precisely one of these has been any good. The rest have been lazy horror/thriller movies, the likes of which are destined to end up on several "worst of" lists - and probably in the bargain bins at your local electronics store. The Gallows is the latest Blumhouse film, and it might just be the worst of the bunch. It's a found footage film filled with jump startles, annoying characters, and obligatory twists which add nothing to the experience but confusion for the audience - especially when they're logistically impossible. Oh, boy.

The initial scene in The Gallows sees a play from 1993, The Gallows, go horribly wrong. One of the actors, Charlie, winds up being hung for real. Twenty years later, and the same play is being put on, in the same school, once again. What better way to honor Charlie, right? I'm sure that's the type of publicity a school would want. Anyway, the protagonists of the film are all somehow connected to the play. The one holding the camera, most of the time, is Ryan (Ryan Shoos), who hates all of the "drama geeks," but is taking the class because he has to, or something.

The Gallows CineMarter #1

Who else is there? Reese (Reese Mishler) is a former football player who is now the lead actor in the play, despite being absolutely horrible at acting. His co-star is Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown), on whom he has a crush. Finally, we have Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford), who is Ryan's girlfriend. All of the non-Pfeifer characters find themselves breaking into the school the night before the first performance in order to destroy the set, are caught by Pfeifer, and then they all get haunted by a ghost whom we're to presume is Charlie.

Wait just a second. First, why would a vengeful ghost wait 20 years to get his revenge? Second, why would he want to kill the kids who are actively trying to stop the play from happening? Third, why are all the actors playing characters who share their names? Seriously, are the actors so bad at their jobs that they wouldn't be able to remember their characters' names if they weren't identical to their own? I know doing the long takes required of found footage movies can be difficult, but simply answering to a different name shouldn't be that hard.

Anyway, all of this is just a convoluted setup to get four kids locked in a building with a ghost who is more concerned with scaring the camera than actually killing the kids. I don't know why he wouldn't get on with it, since they're all annoying, one-note stereotypes, but I'm not a ghost, so what do I know? I guess, technically speaking, he does get on with it relatively quickly, as The Gallows only runs for 80 minutes - its one positive feature - but it sure feels like longer. I checked my watch more often during this movie than any other in recent memory.

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