20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy – but soon discover that some things are better left alone.
There was a time a few film in to his career, that ‘From the mind of M.Night Shyamalan’ suddenly stood as a small warning rather than a marketing enticement (this happened somewhere around Signs or Lady in the Water I think). For me in the last year or so, the usual Blumhouse trailer or DVD cover tag of ‘from the producers of insidious/paranormal activity/purge’ – (delete as appropriate) has almost become the same warning label. All low-budget, most with a forgettable cast, and quite a few… well a bit rubbish. That’s not to say there are not some real gems coming from Blumhouse – Sinister is a brilliant film.
Step up with cinema distribution is the latest offering from Blumhouse productions, The Gallows. A found footage film in which a bunch of high-schoolers put on a play in which 20 years previous at the same school a cast member had been hanged, live on stage. The lead is so abysmal (both in the play and film) that they decide to trash the theatre and cancel the production. It’s from here it goes downhill pretty quick.
Truth be told the concept isn’t half bad, bunch of kids trapped in a theatre overnight. Its execution however is truly abysmal. The plot has MASSIVE plot holes, MASSIVE – so much so that they destroy the entire film. For example – surely someone would question putting on the play in the first place or the weird obsession the lead has with it.
Scares are found aplenty in the Gallows and maybe if you’ve never seen a horror film before – you might jump. Otherwise you will see each scare coming a mile off, the camera loses track of the action for a while as they set up the ‘switch’ or add a jump cut. Or it will hold on nothing for so long that you wait for the jump to occur. At other points the film feels very much like a collection of creepy ideas cobbled together, with some parts seemingly so out-of-place – they slow an already slow burner of a film down even more. Even with an 80 minutes runtime I found myself looking at my watch calculating when It would finish. If I wasn’t meeting people after the screening, I don’t think I would have lasted.
I caught this on EID, unintentionally and watched 4 kids sneak into the screen partway thorough the film. They left after 20 minutes – they were the smart ones.
This probably isn’t the worst horror of the year so far – but it’s certainly making a strong case for the title.
Oh what happened here? There was once a good idea for a movie that took me back to some of the slasher films I loved that went so horribly, horribly wrong. You could have created a horror icon in Charlie, the vengeful boy who doesn’t rest in peace yet you chose to make a poor, minimal effort, terribly acted half arsed movie that just felt like a total let down.
On paper THE GALLOWS sounded a good idea, boy dies in school play, 20 years later the school decides that it would be a nice tribute to the boy who died to put on the play again as a suitable remembrance to him. At that point the process got lost in too many other ideas, THE GALLOWS could have been the night that Charlie came back and we could have had a new face to the horror genre with possibly sequels to follow.
What we get is four distinctly unlikable lead characters that don’t even die in a gruesome way, a movie that you can count the scare scenes of three fingers and a movie that doesn’t capitalize on its location. It has more holes in the plot that a piece of Swiss cheese and a story that just totally loses it and becomes unbelievable. Who are what is Charlie, did he really die, is he a ghost, and is it someone pretending to be Charlie? None of it gets explained.
I found THE GALLOWS to be a hugely disappointing movie, not the worst of the year but another example of where the horror genre is in 2015. It’s better than POLTERGEIST; it’s not as good as KNOCK KNOCK. That’s all you need to know.
The Gallows is out on DVD and BluRay 16th November 2015