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Film Review: The Gallows (2015)

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SYNOPSIS:

20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy – but soon discover that some things are better left alone.

REVIEW:

In 1993, a student named Charlie Grimille was accidentally hung while performing in a play called The Gallows at his high school. Twenty some odd years later, the students & the faculty decide that it would be a good idea to resurrect the play in honor of poor dead Charlie. The local jock Ryan (Ryan Shoos) & his girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford), hate everything about the play and hash up a scheme to destroy the sets in the middle of the night before the play is to take place. Their friend Reese (Reese Mishler), plays the lead role in the show, but he’s really not much of an actor, he’s only there because he has a crush on his leading lady Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). But Ryan & Cassidy convince Reese to join them regardless of any ties he has to the play. The three of them sneak into the school that evening, and after being joined by Pfeifer, find themselves locked inside with the apparent ghost of Charlie Grimille looking for some revenge.

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Once again the fine folks at Blumhouse have released yet another in a long line of found footage films with The Gallows. And once again they offer proof that this particular genre should’ve been laid to rest years ago. The Gallows tries to take advantage of nearly every trope the found footage genre has to offer, and it succeeds in doing mostly just that. But it’s so successful in including those tropes that it serves as a near perfect template for illustrating what’s wrong with the genre. Long story short, it’s insufferably bad.

Any film, good or bad, relies on characterization. A film has to get the viewer to care about at least some of its characters – doesn’t it? Ostensibly, the lead character here in Ryan and it’s safe to say that he’s one of the most irritating characters ever to grace the silver screen. I was ready to throttle him after about ten minutes of his graceless shtick. As Cassidy, Cassidy Gifford has exactly two expressions, she’s either frightened or she’s happy, there is no middle ground. What’s worse is that no matter which of her expressions are in use, she looks like an emotionless Barbie doll whose given up trying to act convincingly and thinks that her two expressions will get her through the film. Reese Mishler’s character is supposed to be someone who isn’t a very good actor, and unfortunately he’s so bad that I can believe just that. Pfeifer Brown is the only one who managed to make me care, but in the end her character arc is the most annoying thing about the film.

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By the way, have you noticed that the script (by Directors Travis Cluff & Chris Lofting) doesn’t even have enough ingenuity in it to give the characters original names?

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I should’ve realized I was in trouble as soon as the film started. The film is presented as part of a police evidence file, which means that the next question I’d be asking is “Who would be filming this” & “Why would this “evidence” be edited?”. But as we all know, this is the biggest faux pas of just about every found footage film ever produced, that being why would anyone be filming any of this. And while I may be wrong, the four teens walked into the school with but a single camera to film their hijinks, but at least 3 of them are filming certain events throughout the film. So how did the others get the camera? Although it was established that they all had cell phones, that could’ve been used to film some of the events, who the hell edited all of that footage together?

The film tries to establish Charlie as a new boogeyman for this generation, this era’s Fred Krueger or Jason Voorhees. And although we don’t see too much of him, he does cut a menacing pose every so often. But since we don’t see too much of him (& his handy noose), he becomes nothing more than a cypher – a non entity. The “twist” that comes at the end of the film is so irritating & nonsensical that I nearly ruptured a blood vessel trying to understand why it happened. The Gallows is a poorly plotted, poorly acted crime against movie lovers worldwide. There is literally nothing good I can say about it other than the fact that it did seem to frighten most of the audience I watched it with. Granted, most of this audience was made up of young girls taking some time off from mall hopping to watch a movie – but I guess I gotta give the film something to crow about. Here’s a quote the producers can use on the upcoming DVD release: “It really scared young girls aged 13-18!“.

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The chuckleheads at Blumhouse have my permission to use that. Free of charge.

All in all, it’s safe to say that I think The Gallows is easily one of the worst films of the year, and one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. It does nothing but dig some more dirt on the poor corpse of the found footage genre. Why on earth would people continue to make these films is a question that may never be sufficiently answered. I hated nearly every second of it.

The Gallows – .5 out of 5.

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