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Movie Review: The Gallows (2015)

Charles Rector's Weblog; Jul. 24, 2015; By Charles Rector
Type: Review

f there is a book that needs to be written, it is The Decline and Fall of Horror Movies. Back in the day, horror movies were every bit as well made as movies in other genres. The acting talent that was associated with horror movies was every bit as good as that in other kinds of movies. Even today, the names of Jamie Lee Curtis, Peter Cushing , Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Barbara Steele are revered by movie fans of all stripes. 

     That was in the past. Nowadays, things are much different. Horror movies appear to be the exclusive domain of cheap untalented hacks. The acting talent is no-name and no-talent. The scripts are nothing but ripoffs of previous quality movies. Horror movies today seem to be pale, languid imitations of the horror movies of the past. There has not been a memorable horror film made since 1999's Blair Witch Project.

     This brings us to the horror movie at hand: The Gallows (2015). This is basically The Blair Witch Project set not in a forest, but instead in a high school at night with the lights out. This is every bit as bad as it sounds. This movie takes the found footage cliche to an all time low. 


     At the start of The Gallows, we are told that all of the footage we are going to be seeing is "taken from police files." Ostensibly everything that we see in this movie is the work of high school kids messing around with video cameras.  That would seem to explain why all of the camera work is so herky-jerky and why the movie fails to have a coherent story. However, the movie's claim about the origin of the footage is contradicted by a scene towards the end when a police officer enters the high school late at night and gets killed by an unknown assailant.  That footage was clearly shot by a professional cameraman, not by some amateur.


     None of the characters in The Gallows have any depth.  This matched by the fact that none of the actors or actresses have any talent.  All of players in this movie are good looking, which is probably why they got their parts in the first place.  When you see just how bereft of talent that Cassidy Gifford is, you have to assume that she got her role just because she is the real life offspring of Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford.  


     Right from the start, The Gallows makes no sense.  For instance, the dumb jock narrator goes around antagonizing people for no apparent reason.  This leads to two questions.  First, why do the people running this high school theatrical production put up with him?  This leads to an even bigger question:  What is this guy doing in the production in the first place?


     The production itself is also problematical.  20 years earlier the high school tried staging a play called The Gallows, but cancelled it after an actor was accidentally hanged during the play.  Now, 20 years later, the same high school is bound and determined to once again stage the same play.  The rehearsals go poorly and it appears that the production work is also shoddy.  That being the case, three of the actors decide that the play is going to be such a disaster, it would be best if they break in their high school late at night and destroy the set.  


     All this is in direct contrast to my experience with the kids putting on shows when I was in high school.  These students were a bunch of egomaniacs.  The whole idea of destroying the set just simply would not even occur to them no matter how poor the rehearsals were  and how bad the production work was.

     In any event, the kids broke into the high school with ridiculous ease.  Then they proceeded to go through the motions of vandalizing the set.  All they did really was knock a few things over, causing so little damage to the props and stuff that its difficult to see how that would have prevented the show from going on.  Talk about violating the suspension of disbelief.

     Once finished with their minuscule efforts at vandalism, the trio decide to leave the school. However, all of the school's doors are locked and they are stuck inside.  When they try to use phone to contact someone outside the school, it does not work.   When they try to set off the fire alarm, it does not work either.  On top of that, they find another member of the cast is also in the school. There is never any sort of explanation as to what this girl was doing there.  Apparently she is in the habit of breaking in the high school late at night for no real reason.

     As anyone who has watched horror movies since 1978's Halloween knows, this 4th student is going to turn out to be the "final girl."  That is, the lone survivor of the slaughter that is going to take place.  There is never any sort of explanation as to who or what is killing the students or why this massacre is taking place.  This movie sticks to the formula to the point of being completely predictable.  The movie does not provide its audience with any suspense or any really scary moments.  It also does not provide any unintentional humor.  The end result is that The Gallows is a movie in which four persons are murdered and yet the film itself is about as interesting paint dry.

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