The Gallows Blu-ray review
In 1993, days before Halloween, Beatrice High School staged a play called “The Gallows.” It was going well enough and would have gotten a nice write-up in the school newspaper…if the title set structure hadn’t malfunctioned and left a teenager named Charlie dead, hanging in front of a packed house.
Twenty years later, the district has unveiled plans to give the play another shot, leaving the viewer to wonder, How low is the drama club’s budget that they couldn’t get the rights to “The Crucible?” There are slight hints of Charlie about the theater and he still haunts the memories of his classmates, but no one is supposed to explicably mention the student, much in the same way you don’t utter “Macbeth” outside of show time and rehearsals.
Of course, one of the characters, Ryan (Ryan Shoos, Patrick Robert Young’s BASTARD)—who has tasked himself to capture the hectic atmosphere behind the scenes—says “Charlie,” opening up potential for doom, as if putting on “The Gallows” alone wasn’t enough. The night before the debut, Ryan, along with lead male Reese (Reese Mishler, the web series YOUTHFUL DAZE) and Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford, 2014’s GOD’S NOT DEAD and the daughter of Kathy Lee and Frank, for what it’s worth), break into the school to sabotage the production (something to do with Reese’s cold feet), only to find the show’s star, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown, in her feature debut), already there. This is the part where the audience tries to figure out which teen will die first.
Courtesy of Ryan’s camcorder, THE GALLOWS is told as a found footage movie. But like most other found footage horror entries, there’s really no reason for any of the characters to even be filming anything, especially if they’re committing felonies like the nimrods featured here. And so the approach is immediately exposed as a cheap gimmick, employed out of laziness and not necessity. (So, too, is the unwarranted subplot about Reese having a crush on Pfeifer.)
THE GALLOWS has a relatively interesting premise for its target audience (a ghost spooking teens on their turf), but writers/directors Travis Cluff (2012’s GOLD FOOLS) and Chris Lofing (his feature debut) never take it anywhere, instead seeming content in letting their collaboration run through all of the subgenre clichés they can come up with. Even the killer’s mask (a bag, a potentially inadvertent nod to the second FRIDAY THE 13TH) is uninspired.
THE GALLOWS is a cheap offering that doesn’t get close to offering the scares it’s supposed to. Here is a movie that thinks giving the screen a green tint and having every character deliver their own signature scream will drum up frights in the audience. And of course there are numerous jump scares, only one of which might actually work—an admittedly high number for this sort of movie.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. While the found footage approach greatly limits the potential for a crisp image, details are still relatively present.
Audio: English Dolby Atmos; English Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The numerous sudden jump scares come through just as loud as the filmmakers could want.
The Original Version: This version was made “completely guerrilla style” and was used to attract the attention of Blumhouse Productions and Entertainment 360.
Surviving the Noose (17:20): Producer Jason Blum interviews writer/director/producers Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff about THE GALLOWS.
Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit (9:44) goes into the conception and creation of Charlie, the movie’s villain.
Deleted Scenes (18:17): There are 12 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “C’est Fini!!!,” “Ryan Messed Around on Stage,” “David the Janitor,” “The Hangman Will Do the Same to Mary,” “Parents of the Nerds,” “Rebelling Against the Teachers,” “Nurse’s Office, Leaving Cassidy,” “The Closet Scene,” “Alternate Version – Ryan’s Body,” “Alternate Ending – No Mom, Cops Bust In,” “Alternate Ending – C’est Fini” and “Is This Where They Found the Body? – from the Original Version.”
Gag Reel (7:45)