Found-footage horror films were all the buzz a few years back, but just like any other horror subgenre, the excitation decayed and the quality regressed. Unfortunately, found-footage is still a sorry excuse for a low-budget Hollywood horror film, and the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. With The Gallows now out, Hollywood is one step closer to proving that innovation is indeed dead.
In 1993, one of the students acting in a school play called The Gallows is a victim of an accident that costs him his life. Today, while preparing for the reenactment of that same play, four students break into the school one night to find themselves facing the horrifying and vengeful spirit of that victim.
The story has nothing more to it.
The characters, too, are as dull. Nothing is revealed about any of the four people the camera follows throughout The Gallows. The writers don’t even try to develop at least one of them. What they succeed at doing, however, is giving the camera to an annoying high school jock who does nothing but throw one cliché after the other at the audience and act like a total douchebag for more than half of the movie. In fact, the cliché characters The Gallows presents – the jerk, the slut, the innocent girl, and the nice guy – would have made more sense if the film was a horror movie parody rather than a cheap horror movie excuse.
To make these characters even worse, the actors are a complete disaster. Though bringing newbies is not new to the genre, the choice of actors here proves that even the casting team wasn’t even trying to respect the audience enough to give them respectful, even if new, performers.
The Gallows follows in the footsteps of all the horror movies with worn out concepts, and relies heavily on cheap jump scares. Those do not work, however, as everyone watching could see the jump scare approaching a mile away. The music build up towards each of these jump scares is funny, even, and does not help at all.
The camera work is also exhausting. By switching from phones to video cameras and vice versa, and constantly shaking the screen in all directions, The Gallows causes headaches and nausea that don’t seem to end until the credits are rolling.
The Gallows’ publicity stunt, the Charlie Challenge (not yet confirmed), is definitely the best thing about the movie. With a shallow story, a worn out concept, cliché characters, horrible performers and bad execution, the film proved to be nothing more than another Hollywood product that is solely there to increase ticket sales.
For a movie that is but 81 minutes long, The Gallows sure felt like it stole a hefty chunk of my day. By all means, avoid it.