Monday, 20 July 2015

The Gallows (2015) - Horror Film Review

Oh joy I thought as The Gallows started and the realisation that it was yet another found footage piece sunk in to my despairing brain pan. To be honest I long got tired of the genre, I had already heard nothing but bad things about this film so my expectations plummeted even lower into the depths of hell.

Twenty years previous to the events of the film a high school student called Charlie is accidentally hung to death during the performance of the play 'The Gallows'. To honour the anniversary of this tragic event the school is once again going to perform the play. Jock Reese (Reese Mishler) has quit the football team to concentrate on the production as he has landed a leading role with the girl he fancies; nerdy Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown) playing his love interest. However his obnoxious best friend Ryan (Ryan Shoos) has concocted a plan to get him to leave the play, the  plan involves breaking into the school at night and trashing the set. Convincing Reese and his girlfriend Cassidy to this ridiculous idea they go ahead. Discovered by Pfeifer in the midst of this the group abandon the plan and go to leave the school but discover all the exits have become locked, it soon becomes apparent that the ghost of Charlie is haunting the place and does not wish anyone to leave alive...

The actual location is a great choice I have to say first. A school at night is actually an effective spooky place, the theatre location in particular is very atmospheric, the grim set design for The Gallows play coupled with the vast seating area and dingy back stage areas make for some unnerving scenes. Found footage films can be as dull as dishwater, there is kind of justification for everything being filmed in that the lights in the school are not working and so everyone uses their phones as a light source, still doesn't really explain why everyone is filming.

After the initial day scenes there are only the four characters to follow around, the main person filming at least initially is Ryan who is super irritating and unlikable, basically a nasty bully, while his girlfriend is really bitchy and not a nice person either. I was hoping there would be some character development, but no there isn't, they don't change their character types at all so I found it hard to care at all about them. Reese on the other hand is a bit of a weird character,he seems easily led is the nicest thing I can say about him, while Pfeifer is kind of bland, she looks pretty but not much is revealed about her. Of the plot it is not too complicated though with a lot of characters who could wish the group harm introduced early on I did find myself wondering if the whole Charlie ghost thing could all be an elaborate hoax. Of course with blatant paranormal events happening this idea of mine soon seemed to be shot down.

All the usual tropes for found footage are used; crazy running sequences with the camera pointed at the ground, glitches and static, night vision sections, and even a Blair Witch Project style girl crying close up at the camera scene. Cheap tricks are used to generate fear such as people suddenly bursting into shot, or sudden loud noises from the distance. Apart from these jump scares there is not a lot to be scared of here, as I said earlier the location itself is actually a lot more scary than what actually happens in this film.

Charlie's method of death is of course death by noose, his arrival heralded by ghostly footsteps and the sound of tightening rope, this is never really utilised too well, it is often far too obvious when something is going to happen. The teaser trailer for The Gallows consisted solely of a character being killed off so I wasn't thrilled to see this scene replayed here in it's entirety, no suspense at all, trailers really do just show too much nowadays. There seems to be an inconsistency to the spirits actions also with him chasing or tormenting people only to vanish for no reason. He came across as far more irritating than spooky and the motivations provided are pretty lame even for a vengeful spirit.

Overall this wasn't the worst found footage I have seen, at least the location was decent, it's just a shame the characters are dull stereotypes, while the bad guy of the piece is nothing special. Mostly it is the anticipation rather than the result which creates fear, should have been a lot more terrifying and so it is merely ok.


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