Friday, November 21, 2014

Film Review: Gallows Hill (aka The Damned) (2013)

Gallows Hill (aka The Damned) (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"The characters are especially poisonous for this film."

After a car accident, a family finds refuge in a desolate inn, where they unwittingly unleash an ancient evil...

Gallows Hill continues to follow this family after their accident. They find refuge in a seemingly out-of-business inn ran by an old man. Eventually, the daughter of the family, Jill (Nathalia Ramos), wanders around the home, which she's told not to do, in search of a restroom when she hears a girl cry. So, the family releases the girl, despite several warnings from the inn's owner. The girl turns out to be possessed, and the family tries to survive and unravel the mystery. I didn't like the ending.

In fact, I didn't like most of the film. The most glaring issues for the film: the unbelievably stupid characters and the consequently contrived story. Really, these are very stupid, ignorant, and arrogant characters. It must have been Opposite Day on the day this film took place, these characters do the exact opposite of what they're told. "Let's drive through this intense storm, even though the police officer told us not to." "He told us not to, but let's leave and explore the house." "Oh, this girl is dangerous and we shouldn't release her? Let's do it, anyway." I was shaking my head throughout the entire first half of the film.

Not only that, but these characters were also annoying. Jill was so self-righteous, she really ruined the ending. The same goes for Gina (Carolina Guerra), Jill's aunt and the journalist who has to get the scoop; furthermore, she makes the stupidest choice in the movie. The other characters were at least tolerable when it came to personality. (I think most of them make at least one stupid decision, though.) The characters ultimately spoiled the film, though.

The film gets a little better during the latter half, when the characters make less decisions, but it's not enough. I suppose, it's too little, too late. I enjoyed some of the scenes, but they weren't enough to redeem the first half of the film. That's very disappointing. I really enjoyed the setting, the inn has a really ominous mood and it almost has a personality for itself. It could've been very atmospheric and creepy. The keyword being: could've.

The acting was all-in-all mediocre. I don't fault it too much, though, most of it is tolerable by horror standards. However, I thought Nathalia Ramos was especially mediocre. Maybe it was dialogue, but her performance sounded very insincere, almost like she was reading directly off a script. Come to think of it, a lot of dialogue seemed insincere, it lacked a human flow -- for lack of a better term. The film is shot well, though. Like I said, the inn looks great and occasionally feels ominous. Director Víctor García almost redeems himself during the second half, but the flaws during the first half are too severe. I liked the concept and some of the horror elements during the final act, but the characters were simply too dreadful for the film.

Overall, I didn't like Gallows Hill. It has some decent horror elements, especially during the second half, as well as a decent concept, but it is too flawed to begin with. The characters are especially poisonous for this film. The plot contrivances are also too blatant, and the entire plot relies on the stupidity of its characters. The writing comes off as lazy, despite the cool concept. Stream it if you're still interested, but I can't recommend it.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some brief nudity.

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