You can find a better use of your time. So during a 1993 high school production of a play called The Gallows, a student dies onstage due to a prop malfunction involving a noose. Twenty years later, school officials have become insensitive and thoughtless, because they are putting on an anniversary show. A few idiot kids break in to try and sabotage it the night before the opening, but they soon find themselves locked in with a possible supernatural presence. Now I heard across the board how bad this was, but you know me: I will still dive in head first, as I like to have my own opinion. Let me be the first to say: everybody is right, and this is garbage.
The biggest thing you notice right out of the gates is the commentary from the person holding the camera. There’s no easy way around it: he’s a gigantic unfunny douche bag. Every insult he makes and every action he takes really makes you want to see him receive his comeuppance, and it starts you off on the wrong foot with getting to know these characters. The acting is pretty amateurish, but this is a Jason Blum found footage horror flick, so I don’t know why you would think that any of the meager production budget would go towards getting capable actors. Apart from that, this movie has even bigger unaddressed questions, like “why does this play exist?”, and even more so, “why would a high school put on an anniversary showing of this play when a kid died onstage during the original performance?” This movie is filled with moments that raises questions like that, and the kids’ plan to knock over a couple of props and take apart the minimalist set was as ill-conceived as the premise of this movie.
The real terrible thing about The Gallows is that we just saw a movie handle its limited budget well, and it was also produced by Jason Blum. That movie was called Unfriended, and you should go watch that as an alternative to get your modern scare fix in. This is the kind of horror that will make you angry, and when you finally get to the end, it really just leaves you scratching your head, because it’s nonsensical; really it’s the kind of movie that they probably shot four or five different endings to, ran all of them with test audiences, and went with the one that surprised them the most. The Gallows is an exercise in frugality, and all it contains is a smash turns to loud noises and a lot of fumbling around in the dark. It’s filled with high school stereotypes, and while there are some elements to the claustrophobia that work on a base level, there’s not enough competency to save it. This is amateur hour, and you can do better.
The Gallows (2015) *1/2
– Critic for Hire