Friday, May 27, 2016

Film Review: The Gallows (2015)

The Gallows (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"I liked certain parts of the movie, but it crumbles during the second half."

20 years after a tragic event during a high school play, students plan to recreate the show and inadvertently awaken a malevolent spirit...

The Gallows is a fairly simple horror film. The film begins with a recording of The Gallows, a play, from 1993. The show is cut short when Charlie, a student, is accidentally hanged and killed during the play. Fast forward 20 years and this very same school is planning to recreate The Gallows with a new cast. The cast includes Reese (Reese Mishler) and Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). Since Reese is struggling with his performance, he joins his friends Ryan and Cassidy in a plot to destroy the set before the big night. To their dismay, after a bit of sabotage, they find themselves trapped in the school and stalked by a malevolent force. There's a bit more going on here, but not much. For the most part, it's just a bunch of teenagers running around a school at night. It all leads to a predictable ending with a mediocre twist.

The Gallows is a disappointing horror film. It actually started off decent. Sure, the characters were often infuriatingly annoying, but I actually liked the concept and parts of the narrative. The setting was also decent. In terms of found footage horror, it feels nice to get out of the house and the abandoned hospitals. Unfortunately, there isn't much more to praise. The story quickly loses its flair, becoming predictable and dull. Even its 'twist' could be seen from a mile away. The horror is too reliant on jump-scares – most of which are forgettable. It's about 75 minutes without credits. Even at such a short runtime, I feel like this film was too long for its own good. Perhaps it would have been better at 30 or so minutes.

Although the characters were horrid, the acting was actually decent. Reese Mishler and Pfeifer Brown perform well enough. It can be a bit overacted at times, but it was more than serviceable. The film suffers from crappy camerawork, though. I think you spend more time looking at the floor and shoes than you do looking at the actors. The shaky cam and poor lighting can also be nauseating and disorienting. The film is written and directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. I'm surprised this film had two writers and directors. It's very simple and predictable. The writing could use some fine-tuning; in terms of direction, the film requires a steady hand and real horror.

Overall, The Gallows is a disappointing film. I liked certain parts of the movie, but it crumbles during the second half. It's not frightening, either. At most, this is the type of film you put on in the background while you're trying to kill time. Hey, at least it's better than Ouija.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.