The Gallows Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Written and directed by Travis Cuff and Chris Lofing
2015, 81 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD and DVD released on October 13th, 2015
Reese Mishler as Reese Houser
Pfeifer Brown as Pfeifer Ross
Ryan Shoos as Ryan Shoos
Cassidy Gifford as Cassidy Spilker
Travis Cluff as Mr. Schwendiman
I've said before that I think I'm one of a handful of people that still really enjoys the found footage horror subgenre. I make no apologies for this because as long as there as the undead still continue to shamble around with movies like Navy Seals Vs. Zombies being released, I can have my guilty pleasure. But that doesn't mean I'm going to defend every found footage out there, especially when it's something as abysmal as The Gallows.
The movie opens with a parent filming a high school play in 1993. To make a long story short, the scene on the stage involves a character getting hanged, but a kid dies for real when things go horribly wrong. 20 years later, the high school is rehearsing for that very same play. Apparently it's making a comeback because uninspired writing.
The story is told via the lens of Ryan's (Ryan Shoos) camera or phone or whatever. He's an annoying-as-hell football player who clearly wants no part of this play but is forced to do it for some reason. It's not really clear why the football players have to be in this play, and I am in no hurry to rewatch and figure out why. Anyway, Ryan runs around with this camera, being completely unlikeable, and making fun of the drama students. Once he finds out his buddy Reese (Reese Houser) is crushing on the play's lead Pfeifer (Pfeifer Ross), he convinces Reese to destroy the set to ruin the play. Reese reluctantly agrees because that's what you do when you are trying to impress a lady. So Ryan, Reese, and Ryan's girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Spilker) all break into the school and start tearing the place apart. Then they get locked in and stuff happens (not scary stuff mind you, just loud noises). Oh, and at some point Pfeifer shows up too for seemingly no reason. It's a mess.
The number one problem with The Gallows, hands down, is how lazy the writing is. Bland, unoriginal, and boring, it's mystifying what a studio saw in this in the first place (more on that in the special features section). The easy shot is to point out that the characters have the same names as the actors (really??), but the issues go deeper than that. Mainly, nothing happens until the last five minutes of the film. The majority of the movie is spent following these kids around the school looking for ways out mixed in with feeble attempts at jump scares with LOUD NOISES. But those don't work because there is no attempt to ramp the tension high enough for them to work, and they are so predictable, you already know they are coming. It's like your three-year-old nephew trying to sneak up on you to scare you, but he's giggling the whole time. The only difference is that I pretend that he scared me because I actually care about him. Here, it's just annoying and hacky. At least my nephew is trying.
What makes all of this even more frustrating is the end of the film is really solid and effectively creepy. (And the only reason The Gallows gets a star instead of a smelly turd.) While one decision a character makes is completely asinine and is another shining example of just how bad the writing is, the result of that choice makes for a good scene, and everything that follows it up until the credits is rather enjoyable. If the rest of the movie had been as atmospheric as this, The Gallows would have been amazing. Instead, you get 78 minutes of boredom in an 81 minute movie.
Video and Audio:
The video is supposed to be from a variety of sources, including a camcorder from 1993, cellphones, and an unknown camera. Thus, the video is all over the place, but any flaws in the picture are obviously intentional.
Audio wise, the Dolby Atmos gets it done, but is really a waste here as the only time there's an effort to deliver a scare, it's just loud.
English, French and Spanish subtitles are available as well.
- The Gallows: The Original Version
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
After I finished the film, I dreaded going into the special features because I had absolutely no interest in them. But my interested was piqued when I saw the original version of The Gallows. I mistakenly thought that this version would be enjoyable and somehow Hollywood had screwed it up with meddling (as they often do). But alas, no. This is virtually the same movie with minor effects changes throughout. It does however have a different ending and if I can say anything positive about the release movie it's the new ending is a lot better. Watching (or pretty much re-watching) this had me dumbfounded on why on earth this was picked up for mass distribution. It really boggles the mind.
Charlie: Every School has its Spirit is a featurette that runs just under 10 minutes that tells the story on how The Gallows came to be, as well as some behind-the-scenes stories. And of course, weird things happened on set. Yawn.
There are 11 deleted and alternate scenes totaling over 16 minutes and a gag reel running about eight minutes.
Like the movie, the special features are frustrating. Better movies get released with nothing but a trailer, and with something like this, I'm stuck wading through a bunch of shit for a movie that's pretty awful to begin with.