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Review: The Gallows

It has become quite difficult to go into a found-footage style with any hopeful expectations. Over the past decade, Hollywood has pumped out dozens of these films because they have low budgets and require minimal time or effort to make. Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing (the pair behind the similarly plotted Stage Fright) use the “tool” for their film The Gallows, which honestly does not even warrant its characters to be carrying around cameras in the first place.

The film opens with footage from a 1993 high school production of The Gallows. During the finale of the play, the protagonist is sentenced to death by hanging. Due to a prop malfunction, Charlie, the actor on stage actually dies. This is perhaps as scary as the film ever gets, as the footage is quite disturbing. We skip twenty years and the same Nebraska high school has decided to remount the show for the first time since the freak accident; because that’s not distasteful right? Football star Reese (Reese Mishler) is playing Charlie’s role, but can’t seem to get his lines right. So his best friend, the obnoxious Ryan (Ryan Shoos), comes up with this brilliant plan, which involves breaking into the school the night before the play and dismantling the set. With the help of Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford), the boys successfully break into the school, but are quickly interrupted by Reese’s costar Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). The plan is called off, and the group decides to leave. That is until the doors lock, the power goes out, and Charlie comes back to take his revenge.

Cluff and Lofing have clearly never met any drama students. Do they really expect anyone to believe that the drama nerds are going to cancel their show just because someone took apart their set? Anyways, the film’s characters are so moronic, so maybe we can let that one slide. Unfortunately, with the exception of the mousey Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown), the audience is given no reason to like any of the characters, and will find themselves rooting for the film’s ghastly villain.

At times, The Gallows actually builds some tension, but this is often spoiled by laughable dialogue and shoddy performances. By the end of the film, the idea of being scared is completely off the table with intentionally scary situations becoming laughable. Regardless of the quality of The Gallows, it actually makes for a somewhat enjoyable eighty minutes. This is the kind of film that is so pathetic, that audiences won’t be able to help but smile.

[star v=15]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.