In general, when you want to see a movie, you usually want to see a good movie. It’s disappointing when it doesn’t deliver on that, needless to say. The genre of horror also adds the expectation that the movie is scary; that it will hold the audience in suspense with an ominous ambiance that makes imaginations wander into the dark, generating that particular fear of the unfathomable. So, it is an extra layer of disappointment when a horror movie doesn’t fulfill the promise of creating a sense of horror.
The Gallows certainly delivers on being obnoxious and irritating. The story is full of “for some reasons.” For some reason, in 1993, a kid was killed by accident (maybe?) in a high school Halloween stage play called The Gallows. He was somehow actually hanged on the set. I would imagine that a high school level play wouldn’t attempt these kinds of special effects, and that putting a noose around a kid’s neck would be off limits – if not only highly frowned upon – in the school safety regulations. The movie starts with a home video recording of the unfortunate event, and then the movie jumps to 2013.
The 2013 drama kids are putting on the play again for Halloween. You’d imagine that it would be tasteless or stupid – especially stupid – to do it exactly the way that led the kid, named Charlie, to be accidentally hanged. But, it’s mentioned in passing that the drama club convinced the school board, so there you go.
And, for some reason, a stereotypically obnoxious jock kid, Ryan (Ryan Shoos) is videoing not only the rehearsal, but pretty much everything. This needlessly makes it a “found-footage” horror movie. And, conveniently, the video camera is always on at the right time and pointing in the right direction at times most people would normally not be recording. It might as well had not been a “found footage” movie. At least it would have taken one irritating aspect out of it. But, that wouldn’t have been as cheap nor as simple.
The obnoxious jock has a friend, Reese Houser (Reese Mishler) in the play that is also a jock. But Reese decided to do the play instead of play football, and his football pals make fun of him, especially Ryan. Ryan also makes fun of and pulls pranks on the stereotypical nerdy drama kids. This also helps really bring in the point that the kid is a jackass. But, most of the time, he’s pushing Reese not to be in the play.
So, after being basically a contemptable ass by going around and being as obnoxious as he can, all the while still videoing his delinquent nature, he finds a door near the theater room that happens to have a broken lock. So, while still on video, of course, he convinces Reese of a secret plan to go into the school at night and destroy the set so he doesn’t have to do the play. But, it turns out that Reese has a crush on the girl in the lead of the play, Pfeifer Ross (Pfeifer Brown), whom Ryan thinks is a dork and can’t believe his bro would go for such a loser. She’s in the drama club, after all. But Reese decides to go along with it, anyway. And, all the while knowing that the planning of the vandalism, and the vandalism itself, is all recorded for any authorities to potentially come across.
That night, Ryan, Reese, and Ryan’s cheerleader girlfriend, Cassidy Spilker (Cassidy Gifford) set out on their plan.
At this point, a few things have to be noted; 1. Absolutely nothing scary nor suspenseful has happened and this is about a third of the way into the movie, and 2. The names of the characters are the same as the actors. Perhaps to try and give the movie an authentic “found-footage” effect. Unless you look at the credits or the IMDB site, no one will know.
Pfeifer happens to show up at the school that night, too. And they all get locked in because of, presumably, the ghost of Charlie. And that’s when a lot of the loud jump scares start – which this movie relies heavily upon. Most of these are false scares in that it was only one of the friends that happened to scare one of the other characters, or a cat jumping out.
From then on, it continues to be uninteresting with an ineffective build up leading to a silly and unsatisfying conclusion. Something that did create a positive feeling was that the video camera style in the haunted school reminded me of how much better playing Outlast would be. It would be a positive for The Gallows if it was more like Outlast. It’s bad when the movie reminds you of something more fun that you’d rather be doing. In this case, something that actually delivers on the promise of horror.
The Gallows is as dull as dishwater.