THE GALLOWS (2015)
Label: Warner Home Video
Release Date: October 13th 2015
Region Code: A
Duration: 81 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Chris Lofing, Travis Cluff
Cast: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford
I do not consider myself a found-footage cynic, honestly, I even enjoyed 'Area 51' which seems to get dumped on a lot. I came into 'The Gallows' with an open-mind and ready for some shaky-cam creepiness. At first glance I thought thought the set-up and mythology had a lot going for it, set in a high school where twenty years prior a school production of the play 'The Gallows' went tragically wrong when the star was killed in a freak accident when he fell through the trap door of a well-constructed gallows prop with a noose around his neck. Twenty years later the same school drama club resurrects the tragic play as a way of honoring the anniversary of the tragedy.
I loved the idea of a cursed play, the idea of a haunted school, and having broke into my own high school several times to play night time games of hide and seek I can attest to how damn creepy a school hallway and auditorium can be with the lights out after dark, the hallways eerily lit by the sinister red glow of a few well-placed exit signs, the reverberating sounds of foot steps running down a darkened hallway, how every sound is eerily amplified... so coming into it I could see the potential of the setting, so throw in a half decent mythology about a cursed production and you have the makings of a potential found-footage winner.
Unfortunately that is not my experience with this one guys, beginning with hateful characters who are just plain unlikable. The main character is a high school jock who drops out of football his senior year to star in the play, all the while only doing it to win the heart of the resident drama-queen. How the talentless jock scored the leading role is a bit of a mystery, his line readings are awful. While clearly lacking talent on-stage his character is set-up as a nice enough guy at first, but he has a very douchey friend, another jock who for some reason is acting as a stage hand for the production, but has nothing but resentment for drama. He torments the drama-nerds, one in particular is mercilessly singled out for persecution, but the nerd is portrayed as such a dork that he almost deserves the torment brought upon him, there's just no one to root for here, no one is kind or sweet, or decent.
The night before the play the jocks and one of the most annoying young female characters in recent memory, enter the school through a stage door which everyone seems to know does not lock for some reason, they're there to destroy the set so that the nice jock doesn't have to prove what an awful actor he is to the entire school, and so that he can console the drama-queen when she is inevitably crushed by the vandalism. Of course, once they break-in they cannot get out and some strange stuff begins to happen, and after a somewhat promising set-up they squander what little hope I had for it by throwing every played out found-footage trope at you, without shame, its almost a send-up of the genre, and not a good one.
There's only so many scenes of annoying kids running down darkened hallways screaming that I can stomach, an abundance of poorly shot scenes of feet shuffling around in the dark, too many moments of intended suspense which are broadcast so far in advance as to be a joke. It's not all awful though, there are some brief moments of promise, but the execution and follow-through is truly is awful, the acting is spotty, and the characters are written as complete assholes, there's nothing redeemable about them and I didn't care about them even a little.
While the end does come back around with a spark of the promise that the mythology hinted at they let it drag on too long with an over-long extended ending, if they had ended it a few moments earlier it would still be bad, but it wouldn't have left such an awful taste in my mouth. I didn't come into this jaded, I know I sound it, but this is a straight-up cash-grab, save your money for something original, better written and deserving of your hard earned wages, there are too many decent movies, and few awesome ones, you should support with your time and money. How this ended up with an R-rating baffles me, they didn't even have the decency to properly bare some flesh and there's no gore whatsoever, seems like a marketing ploy to me, they must have begged for an R-rating from MPAA.
The disc from Warner Home Video looks damn good for a found-footage entry, the image is strong and the surround sound mix does dd some eeriness to the darkened hallways and auditorium featured in the movie. Additionally, they've loaded it with extras, including the original version of the movie, which is an interesting watch if just to see how true it is to the final movie, there are only a few subtle differences. There's also a handful of featurettes with the cast and crew, one in particular tries a bit too hard to sell the idea that the school they shot in was actually haunted, which all sounded like hyperbolic horse puckey to me. There's also deleted scenes, a gag reel, and trailers for the concept trailer, original version trailer and the final theatrical trailer, and a Digital HD version of the movie.
- The Gallows: Surviving the Noose (17 Mins) HD
- Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit (10 Mins) HD
- The Gallows: The Original Version with Directors Intro (81 Mins) HD
- 13 Deleted Scenes (18 Mins) HD
- Gag Reel (8 Mins) HD
- Concept Trailer with Directors Intro (3 Mins) HD
- Original Version Trailer with Director's Intro (3 Mins) HD
- Theatrical Trailer (2 Mins) HD
While the end does come back around with a spark of the promise that the mythology hinted at they let it drag on too long with an over-long extended ending, if they had ended it a few moments earlier it would still be bad, but it wouldn't have left such an awful taste in my mouth. I didn't come into this jaded, I know I sound it, but this is a straight-up cash-grab, save your money for something original, better written and deserving of your hard earned wages, there are too many decent movies, and few awesome ones, you should support with your time and money. I watched this a second time with my trio of teen delinquents, to play devil's advocate, they were enthralled by it, clutching their pillows. peeking out from between fingers and jumping at every cheap jump scare, so there's a teen audience out there who crave this sort of stuff, perhaps I am just too old, either way I say skip it. 2/5