HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Gallows
HTS Overall Score:76
Oh boy. Have you ever seen film that completely caught you by surprise with its intelligence, screenwriting and innovative approach to the horror genre? Well, if you have, then be warned that “The Gallows” is NOT one of these films. I hadn’t realized it was found footage till I actually started watching (I like to go into horror movies with as little spoiled as possible for the most scares), was just flabbergasted at the ineptitude shown on screen. They are always hit or miss, with many misses for the few hits, but “The Gallows” takes the cake as being one of the most unfunny, unintelligent found footage movies I have seen for quite some time. Characters and plot points make little to no sense, and well, most everyone is just plain unlikeable.
In 1993 the students and staff of Beatrice High suffered a great tragedy. During a production of “The Gallows” stage production, Charlie Grimille accidentally gets hung on stage due to an accident. 20 years later the new staff decides to honor that memory by doing that very same production once more. Male lead, Reese Houser (Reese Mishler), is just plain NOT good at the role. He’s stumbling over his lines, and gets made fun of by his jock school buddies for having a crush on the female lead, Pfeifer Ross (Pfeirfer Brown). Fueled by class clown and best friend, Ryan Shoos (Ryan Shoos), Reese and Ryan go to the stage one night before opening curtain in order to sabotage the set and cancel the show. There Ryan, Reese, Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) learn that the sins of the father may soon be coming home to roost.
Uggghhhh, just uggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That’s all I have to say. I can’t honestly believe how bad this film is. I love horror. I love cheesy, bad, irredeemable horror and really DO try to find the best in everything. I just couldn’t find much to love in “The Gallows”. The actors themselves are nobodies with very little experience it turns out, and it shows BIG TIME. Not a single one of them is written likeably or logically either. I know, I know, horror movies aren’t supposed to have logical acting teenagers. Nothing would get done or killed otherwise. However, within the first 10 minutes of the 81 minute runtime I was just constantly hoping that SOMETHING would happen so they could get killed off soon. It really takes till nearly halfway through the short film for something to actually start going wrong. The first 30-40 minutes is just Cassidy, Ryan and Reese filming everything in sight of the production and whining about how they hate everything in the play. Well, between Ryan mooning over Pfeifer, and Pfeifer acting like a ditz. Once the blood and guts start happening, you realize …..there really isn’t any blood and guts. “The Gallows” takes a queue from “Paranormal Activity” and could just be renamed “random things banging around in the dark” until the final few minutes.
On the positive side, the first 20 minutes of the movie completely encapsulates the sheer idiocy and immaturity of high school students. Most High School students in horror films look like they’re 35 with some makeup trying desperately to play 18 year old seniors, but “The Gallows” manages to get reasonably aged actors acting JUST LIKE moronic 18 year old seniors. However that good cannot last very long, and we’re stuck with another beleaguered hour of found footage style filming that just ends up being nauseating. By the end of the film the afore known “twist” to the movie is just as confusing and pointless as the previous hour of shaky camera work that doesn’t allow for much transparency.
Rated R for some disturbing violent content and terror
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55634[/img]For a found footage film, “The Gallows” actually looks REALLY impressive. During the first 20 minutes or so when Ryan is filming out door sequences of the production, the digital camera looks really crisp and clean, with natural colors and very nice detail (when the camera stops bouncing about). Even when the 4 teenagers are stuck inside the stage area in pitch black, we have wonderfully defined blacks that really show off as much detail as it can considering the darkness around it. Green night vision shows up, as well as the glow from a red looking camera light, and as mentioned, has some nice shadow detail. There’s the odd “artifact” that the film intentionally always puts in these found footage films, despite the fact that I have never seen a modern film DO that in 10 years, but hey, it is definitely intentional. There is a bit of banding around some of the flashlight and phone light beams in the darkness, but nothing too terrible. Overall, a very very nice look image, that just suffers from being a bit too shaky to truly sit back and admire a lot of the time.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55642[/img]I had completely forgotten that “The Gallows” was coming with an Atmos track until I started checking the audio tracks for accuracy at the beginning of the film. I was eager for some over aggressive jump scares with tons of crashes and heavy LFE, but was pleasantly surprised to have a much more subdued and detailed track to enjoy. Dialog is always clean and clear, although sometimes it does fade a bit as the students leave a camera with recording device on and run the opposite way, so you have a bit of the Doppler Effect going on, but that’s not exactly mix related. The surrounds are constantly great workout as you hear little pings, ticks and creaks from EVERY direction imagineable. I was hearing a phone go off behind me at one point that was so realistic that my buddy and I asked if that was ours or the movie! Here’s where it gets interesting. I was REALLY expecting some heavy duty LFE for the win today, but the mix is decidedly light on the over aggressive bass. It’s there, and it adds some great depth to the effects, but the LFE channel manages to be much more subtle and clever about its inclusion rather than just pound away the whole time. It’s a good track for sure, but with the subtle bass and a few source related dialog issues, I can’t give it the 100% 5/5 rating that I would have liked, but still, this is no slouch in the audio department. Great Atmos track.
• Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• The Gallows: The Original Version
• The Gallows: Surviving the Noose
• Concept, Original Version and Theatrical Trailers
I tried very hard to go into “The Gallows” with an open mind, but sometimes you can’t escape the reality that something is just BAD! From beginning to end, “The Gallows” wreaks of shoddy filmmaking and a Hollywood trope (mainly found footage in general) that is way past it’s “ooh shiny” expiration date. The cast is uninspired and obviously about as bored as the audience, and the shaky camera work carries very few jump scares to really get worked up about. Audio and video are simply fantastic, especially considering that the film has an Atmos soundtrack, but even that is not enough to save the 81 minute laugh fest (unintentional laugh fest). Skip it.
Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos
Director: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Written By: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), French, Portuguese, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 81 Minutes
Own The Gallows on Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD on October 13 or Own It Early on Digital HD Now
Buy The Gallows Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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