Gallows, The (2015)

thegallowsposterStarring Cassidy Gifford, Ryan Shoos, Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown

Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing

It’s decades after a horrible prop malfunction resulted in the hanging death of high school student Charlie Grimille (Jesse Cross) on the opening night of a play called “The Gallows.” So, it should be safe to revive and go on with the show all these years later, right? Wrong! This onstage reboot brings with it a revival of the supernatural kind.

This is a found footage movie, and throughout the action the camera is ostensibly in the hands of smartass jock Ryan (Ryan Shoos). How he manages to be coordinated enough to handle a football on the playing field I will never guess because he holds his camera like a mentally challenged, epileptic octopus.

As he films his friends, the story unfolds – Ryan’s bud Reese (Reese Mishler) has a crush on the school nerd, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown). Pfeifer is heavily involved in theater and is instrumental in honoring the anniversary of the tragedy by resurrecting “The Gallows.” So, Reese decides to impress her by auditioning for Charlie’s role. He gets a lot of teasing about this from Ryan. Along for the shaky, quaking ride is Ryan’s stuck-up cheerleader girlfriend, Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford). For quite a long time, nothing much happens except we learn that our lead characters are all pretty much one-dimensional assholes and archetypes.

After a few spooky vibes, Reese gets a bad case of stage fright. So he and Ryan and Cassidy decide to prevent the show from happening by breaking into the high school the night before the performance to sabotage the set. Pfeifer catches them in the act, and they decide the jig is up and they should just go home… but Charlie has other plans.

The Gallows’ indie trailer, posted online a couple of years ago, apparently captured the attention of Blumhouse, who developed the feature, which is now being released nationwide by Warner Bros. Talk about a Cinderella story! But The Gallows is less like a glass slipper and more like chewing glass…with your eyes. It’s one of the worst-filmed movies I have seen in years. The actors are good, mainly because they seem to be ad-libbing and kind of playing themselves (even their character names are not invented), but the story is shopworn and unimaginative, and the result is dull as dirt.

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Jeff O'Donnell

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