Here’s a TL;DR for all you short-attention span people out there: The Gallows is a terrible movie.
The longer version? I don’t know how this one was selected to get a national theater debut over any of the direct-to-DVD films within the same genre. Even their marketing campaign was so-so. I mean, lots of people seemed to have heard about the ‘Charlie Charlie’ thing but almost none of them knew it was viral marketing. Viral marketing only works when someone can put two and two together, folks.
Does it seem like I’m ranting? Well, that’s because I am. Get ready for more.
The Gallows is set in modern day Beatrice, Nebraska and is the biggest movie to star that state since Nebraska. That’s...that’s all I’ve got on that one.
The movie starts with footage of a 1993 play of the same name wherein the main character is accidentally killed on stage when the gallows prop malfunctions. We’re then immediately thrown to ‘today’ where we get to meet our small cast of characters as they attempt to restage the play without the prop malfunction.
Since every found-footage film starts off with the guy operating the camera, we are first introduced to Ryan (Ryan Shoos) who is the most reprehensible, douchiest character I have seen since I sat through Unfriended. He is an unapologetic asshole who thinks he’s the class clown. Maybe I’m getting old and starting to think that every movie teenager is irritating, but I really don’t think it’s me. Being friends with this guy is like having to choose between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.
He’s on the technical side of the drama club because it’s apparently the mandatory elective that demands the least amount of work, and he also gets to constantly tease his friend Reese (Reese Mishler), a former football standout who quit the team to go drama full time. A quiet, friendly guy, Reese is also a really bad actor. Which is a shame because he’s the play’s male lead. And he’s trying to impress a girl.
That girl is also the star of the play, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown), and she is the consummate actor. Or whatever the high school equivalent is. Rounding out the cast is Ryan’s cheerleader girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford), who for some reason actually dates a guy who insults her constantly. Ahhh, young love. It should be added that Cassidy demonstrates the best acting in the film for whatever that’s worth.
After way too much time spent showing off how much of a douchebag he is, Ryan decides that his friend Reese is such a bad actor that it would be in everyone’s best interest for the two of them to take Cassidy, sneak into the school at night, and destroy the set. At first things go kinda wrong when they’re caught by Pfeifer, but then things go really wrong when an unknown entity starts to stalk them through the school.
I want to give credit where it’s due. The movie was originally shot on a $250 budget and Blumhouse picked it up, gave the filmmakers an extra $100K then fully supported the film for a national release. No matter what happens it’s going to make back all its cost, including advertising, before you even read this review. So props to the filmmakers and props to Blumhouse for supporting the little guy.
As for the bad, they wanted this to be the next Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project but The Gallows is merely the next bad found-footage film in the same vein as As Above, So Below. It’s schlocky, it’s boring, the characters are terrible people and it wasn’t scary. That’s the worst part. I was in a theater half-filled with nothing but teenagers and there was not one scream, yelp or gasp during the entire film.
It’s one thing to make a bad horror film. It’s another to make it boring.