The Gallows (2015)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Written by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Produced by: Jason Blum, Travis Cluff, Benjamin Forkner, Chris Lofing, Dean Schnider.
Starring: Ryan Loos, Reese Mishler, Cassidy Gifford, Pfeifer Brown.
Oh, boy! Another found footage movie! I wonder if it’s complete garbage?
Yes, yes it is. THE GALLOWS is only marginally better than the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year if only because the filmmakers seemed like they had a misplaced enthusiasm in getting it made. So congratulations, THE GALLOWS, you’re slightly better than PAUL BLART MALL COP 2. Found footage movies initially started out with some intention of creativity. You can see that all over 2012’s CHRONICLE and the first two PARANORMAL ACTIVITY movies (or so I’m told, I don’t think the critics are as fond of PARANORMAL WHACKTIVITY as I am). It’s hard to describe exactly why THE GALLOWS is as astoundingly awful as it is without spoiling the entirety of the film, but I will try.
In the 90’s, Charlie Grimmell is killed in a freak accident while putting on a play called THE GALLOWS. It turns out, said gallows were actually functional. Now, I swear this review isn’t just going to be me pointing out things in this movie that were stupid, because you could write a dissertation on that, but bear with me here. Who seriously thought that building a functional gallows for a high school play was a good idea? Does the school typically do this for plays?
“Alright kids! We’ve bought poison for Romeo and Juliet!”
Anyway, THE GALLOWS has what I’m certain will end up being the worst character I see in a movie in 2015. He is a gentleman named Ryan (Ryan Loos), who NEVER. STOPS. TALKING. He comments on absolutely everything, and never has anything constructive or interesting to say. Literally everything that came out of this character’s mouth inspired my seething resentment, and I don’t mean that in the way you’ll hear most people use the word ‘literally.’ No, I am employing the word in the most academic sense.
He’s also a bully. Which you can make the kids in your horror movie unlikable, sure, but you have to add SOMETHING that could be considered a redeeming quality. This guy hasn’t even one, neither does his friend Reese (Reese Mishler), his girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford), or Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). The nicest thing I can say about this cast is that Reese and Pfeifer are marginally better actors than Ryan and Cassidy, (emphasis on marginally.) Back to Ryan, its pretty obvious that the script only has him commenting on everything while he’s holding the camera for the purpose of exposition, and that really makes it worse. This has to be some of the clumsiest exposition I’ve seen that the filmmakers have tried to ‘weave into the movie organically.’ Only thing is they screwed that part up too.
The cinematography is ugly. Not in the way that movies will have ugly cinematography for the sake of atmosphere, but in a way that comes off as overly edgy. It’s the filmmakers trying to compensate with style and botching it. Speaking of things the filmmakers botched, this movie is over-edited that it gave me a headache. Jonathan Liebesman would tell these guys to just chill out and let the scene happen, Jonathan Liebesman would have handled this movie better. It’s interesting that a found footage movie like this would have as many cuts as THE GALLOWS does. It’s almost as if nobody thought this premise through.
I haven’t even really gotten into the plot, so you fast forward twenty years later and the school is trying to revive THE GALLOWS in an effort to….honor Charlie’s memory? Whatever. So Ryan is filming because he is the stagehand and is supposed to help film the play. But he keeps filming even when he’s not supposed to because if he didn’t we wouldn’t have a movie. Ryan hates the play, and he finds a door in the back of the theater that can’t lock. Alright, let’s look at this for a minute. There’s a door in the back of the theater that never locks that the whole theater department knows about…and you want to commit vandalism, despite the fact that everybody in the school seems to know that you have a penchant for being a little snot? This plan might have a few holes.
So, because we won’t have a plot unless our main characters act like idiots, he successfully enlists Reese and Cassidy. What kills me is that he’s still filming. The script for THE GALLOWS is so braindead that they don’t think to take advantage of the multiple ways they could get their ‘found footage’ for this movie, they could use security cameras; they could have somebody else filming during those scenes at the beginning. Who needs that though? Found footage is cheap and everybody knows this movie is barely going to break the top five so they need to cut corners to maximize profits! Because people will watch any garbage you put in front of them….
What I’m trying to say is that this movie got a standing ovation at my theater…Why?
There is a twist, but it’s a spoiler. The problems with it are problems I’ve already mentioned anyway. THE GALLOWS is bad; and it’s not funny bad, merely miserable to sit through. I cannot recommend this film in any way, shape or form.