The new horror film The Gallows is pretty dire. It’s boring, it’s forgettable, and – worst of all – it’s not really scary. And yet, I would argue that The Gallows is actually providing a fairly valuable service for horror films lovers.
The Gallows is a found footage horror movie and sometimes, it’s easy to forget just how bad found footage horror movies can be. Every once and a while, a film will be released that actually makes good use of the whole found footage gimmick. Movies like The Last Exorcism, Devil’s Due, Apollo 18, and Unfriended are all good horror films but, at the same time, it’s important to remember that they are the exception to the rule. The Gallows may be a total crapfest but it’s a necessary evil because it serves to remind us of why so many horror films have gone to hate found footage films.
As for The Gallows itself, it tells a story that will be familiar to anyone who has seen a horror film. 20 years ago, during a high school production of a play called The Gallows, a student named Charlie was accidentally hanged. Now, in the present, the school is commemorating the anniversary by putting on another production of The Gallows and…
Yes, I know that makes no sense. What can I tell you? This is a crappy film.
Anyway, Charlie’s role is being played by a kid named Reese but Reese doesn’t really want to be in the play. He’s just doing it because he has a crush on his co-star, Pfieffer. So, Reese’s obnoxious jock friend, Ryan, suggests that they should break into the school at night and trash the set. That way, the play will be canceled and Reese can comfort Pfieffer. Reese agrees and…
What was that you asked?
Yes, the film really is that stupid.
So, Reese, Ryan, and Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy break into the school and trash the set. However, before they can really get into destroying stuff, Pfieffer shows up and demands to know what they’re doing. And then suddenly the doors slam shut and everyone’s trapped in the school and hey, there’s the evil spirit of Charlie and he wants to hang everyone…
But guess what!
Charlie’s not just a random evil spirit, seeking out anyone foolish enough to break into the school at night. If that was the case, he might actually be scary. No, Charlie actually has a backstory and a much more complicated motive for wanting to kill everyone. And I’m not going to spoil the film for anyone who wants to see it so I’ll just say this.
Charlie’s motives? They’re really, really stupid.
And, of course, the whole film is found footage! So, once again, we get the whole shaky cam thing and people saying stuff like, “Are you filming?” and all the rest. And, of course, all of the characters share the same first name as their actors because … well, I’m not sure what the point of that is exactly. It’s not like we’re going to be fooled into thinking that we’re watching an actual event. There have been way too many crappy found footage films released recently for anyone to fall for that.
Admittedly, I did jump once or twice while watching The Gallows. But any horror film can get me to jump once or twice. The Gallows is a boring and listless film but, at the very least, it does serve as a warning.
Beware found footage horror films. They promise much yet rarely do they deliver.