Let’s skip the fancy introductions and word play, this is another Robbie K review with a focus on yet another horror movie. Today we jump into the latest teen horror movie entitled the Gallows, which also acts as another attempt to revive found footage films. From the trailers it looks “interesting” (to be nice), but I didn’t hold much hope for this film. So let’s get started…
Like most found footage films you can expect bumpy camera work giving you details about the perilous journey to unfold. I have to admit that the camera work isn’t too horrible in this film, most of the time stable enough to give you the same shots of the abandoned school. The crew also gets points for some clever ideas on switching the camera perspective from the camcorder that starts our journey to cell phones equipped with a night vision application. But the good stops there. Much of the time our cast is running from the unseen force that is Charlie, the camera unfortunately swaying to and fro with not stability. Sure it brings a little more reality and edge to the picture, but too much of it left me annoyed at the lack of details. In addition, the multiple camera angles were an interesting twist, but they were executed in the wrong manner. When the doors close and you hear someone screaming you can get an idea of what is going on? So why then do I have to see footage minutes later showing what I pretty much already knew. To do this not once, but about three times didn’t make it any better, and much of the time was more cheesy than anything else. Oh well, with a $100,000 budget, I guess you have to get as creative as you can right?
But you probably want to know if the Gallows is scary right? In a one word summary, NO. The Gallows is cheesy, all horror drowned out by the ridiculous characters tale integrated around it. At first you get the chills as the suspense builds and you wait for that first moment of terror. In fact, the scariest part of the whole movie is the setting itself, a school after hours where one can feel abandoned in the dark hallowed halls. Why is a school so scary? Most likely because it is real, a place we can all relate to, one that is supposed to safe from such horrible fates. That comfort is robbed though when the school closes and the lights go out, the unknown frontier of the dark instigating that primal urge of fear. But past the dark halls, the scares are diluted to comical level. For one thing, the teenagers are idiots, obnoxious, rude, and annoying examples portraying the typical behavior of the average American youth. I found myself having no pity for them, waiting for their stupidity to get them in a situation they couldn’t talk their way out of. In addition that building suspense is rapidly dropped, as the hunt unfolds in a manner of minutes, each predictable moment unfolding the way you expect. And the story that explains all this is rather… lame. At first it seems a simplistic tale of Charlie exacting revenge on pay defilers, but it quickly becomes more convoluted, a plot that has a few soap opera factors to it that again make it cheesy.
As for Charlie himself, well the team dropped the ball on that one too. Again they started off strong, doing some subtle, traditional scare tactics that invisible specters do. Your imagination begins to paint a scary, creepy picture of what the creature looks like, and what tools he will use to torture our victims. Then you see him for what he is and well… it is very disappointing. Charlie is just a modern looking version of Jason Voorhees where the mask is replaced with a sack, and the machete is replaced with a noose that can skirt ceilings. This diluted version lacks the edge that the classic killer had and quite honestly represents the product of a low budget. There isn’t much more I can say about this, other than Charlie’s main scare is his lurking in the shadows in that manner that makes you want to look over your shoulder.
The Gallows is a movie that is as cheesy and cheap as the budget they used to make the film. A film filled with predictable scares, a shallow story, and obnoxious characters do not make for a good scare film. Throw in the camerawork, lack of diversity and low budget villain and again you don’t have much to go on. Thus, this reviewer cannot recommend this film for the theater, and would say it was better cast on the SyFy channel where cheesiness is welcomed. I can’t even think of a group to go see this in the theater other than teenagers looking for a good, “cheap” scare.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 3