I’m a big fan of Jason Blum and his horror movie brand Blumhouse Productions. Ever since they took a gamble on Paranormal Activity the production company seems to have gone from strength to strength.
They rapidly became the main superpower in the Found Footage genre and also chipped in with more traditional films like Sinister and Insidious.
So when I heard about their latest Found Footage release, it was safe to say I was more than a little excited.
The Gallows is a sort of teenage hangman horror story that takes place in a American high school drama hall. Let’s take a closer look at it…
I find that a lot of Found Footage efforts shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to their endings. Even The Blair Witch Project finished on a pretty shitty note!
But The Gallows somehow switched things around a bit – I felt it actually depended on it’s ending to stand out and be memorable in some way.
To be honest, it was a decent enough build to it’s climax but that was about all it was – decent. Nothing seemed to be unique or even remotely frightening at times, it just sort of traveled in a straight line towards the final twist.
I expected more from a Blumhouse production.
The film takes place in a town called Beatrice in Nebraska and follows the plight of a group of teenagers involved in a school drama production.
Back in 1993 this school drama society was involved in a horrible accident when one of it’s actors was killed on stage during a performance named The Gallows.
A young actor named Charlie falls through a temporary gallows prop and ends up hanging himself in front of the whole audience ( of course this is all captured on VHS video! ).
So, we shift forward a few years and theater queen Pfeifer ( Pfeifer Brown ) has managed to convince the head of the drama department to re-stage the hexed play.
A rather pathetic jock actor named Reese ( Reese Mishler ) decides to take on the lead role next to Pfeifer as he fancies getting a slice of her action. Only one problem though – his acting skills stink!
So the night before the first performance of the play, Reese and his two mates, Ryan ( Ryan Shoos ) and Ryan’s cheerleader girlfriend Cassidy ( Cassidy Gifford ), decide to break into the drama hall and trash the stage.
They figure that if the set is trashed the play will not go ahead and Reese will avoid a rather painful acting experience.
I could go on but just about ANY Found Footage freak out there will know where the story goes from this point…
I’ve got to be honest here – this was more than a little disappointing even though it was not that bad overall ( does that make sense? ).
There has been a huge marketing effort over here in the UK and I’ve come across many attractive and atmospheric trailers for the film.
But it seems to have ended up being one of those films that is made to look a LOT better by the trailers released – it roped me in good and proper!
This is not a poor Found Footage effort, it is just a poor effort for the expertise of Blumhouse Productions.
I did a little research on the film’s directors ( Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing ) and discovered that this was their debut feature length horror film. They have previously only been involved in horror shorts ( apparently! ).
I’m a little confused as to why Blumhouse Productions took a gamble on this pair – I’m not really sure it has paid off that well.
The acting was pretty decent but the plot was extremely thin really – sometimes this works in Found Footage, sometimes it doesn’t.
The main problem I had with the film is that it failed to scare me – it was atmospheric and menacing at times but it still lacked that ‘jump’ factor.
I sat and watched it and enjoyed many of the scenes, but I still felt as though I was watching a movie that wouldn’t frighten a thirteen year old.
Maybe it’s just me – maybe I really NEED to be shocked before I can fully enjoy a horror film? All I know is that the film felt ‘average’ in terms of horror, a little watered down maybe!
Not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, but not a great one either – I expected more…