by Adam Riske
The Gallows is not the worst, but it’s completely ordinary found footage nonsense that exists to make a small chunk of money for the weekend it’s out before disappearing forever from the collective conscience of society. Every once in a while you get a horror surprise in theaters (Unfriended comes to mind) but The Gallows is too dumb for its own good. On the positive side, the movie is diverting, a little bit fun and tense at times, with a neat setting and the twist is crazy and interesting even if it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and is completely dependent on fate guiding circumstance. The filmmakers, writer-directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing (anyone could have directed this movie -- there’s no authorship, mood or style) have little respect for the audience’s intelligence and that’s The Gallows’ fatal flaw. The plot doesn’t hold water if you think about it for even a few seconds.
I’m usually not the toughest critic either when it comes to found footage. I’ve liked many horror movies using this conceit, including The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Afflicted, Quarantine and As Above/So Below. But with The Gallows, the filmmakers do themselves a disservice by even going the found footage route. This movie could have easily been a traditionally-shot teen slasher but (I’m assuming to cut costs) Cluff and Lofing went with found footage and the result is a mess, especially when it comes to story, logic and photography (no one can hold the camera still in found footage movies but that’s especially true of The Gallows). Found footage has become very tired through its shallow use and overall misuse.
The characters are a major problem with The Gallows. There are four main leads we follow and three of them are forgettable…fine, whatever. But the one we follow (who is holding the camera) for at least the first half of the movie is among the most annoying, unlikeable teenagers to ever be put on screen. He’s the worst and I understand it’s to a point (we’re supposed to take satisfaction in his probable demise) but he drags down the entire movie. It’s way worse than T.J. Miller in Cloverfield.
Once that character leaves (I’m not saying if he does or doesn’t die so it’s not a spoiler), we end up missing him. Why? Because at least he was holding the camera with a sense of direction and purpose. The last 40 minutes of The Gallows are a convoluted mess because it feels like the filmmakers just let the cameramen (or cast) wander around shooting anything regardless of its sense of composition or significance. As a result, the energy sags and, until the loony finale, the movie gets rather boring.
If you’re a completist and need to see every middle-of-the-road found footage movie where a vengeful ghost comes back to settle the score, then go see The Gallows. Otherwise you’re not missing anything if you skip this movie. While not without its minor perks, it’s a lazy and stupid movie on the whole. I wasn’t expecting much and I didn’t get much. When people talk about how found footage gives horror a bad name, it is movies like The Gallows to which they are referring.
Thanks, I think I will skip this one.ReplyDelete
The advertising for this movie really annoyed me. The trailers were flat out trying to sell "Charlie" in the Gallows as another horror movie icon on the level with Freddy and Jason. That's not something you can just sell in the trailers, it's something that has to be earned and decided by the audience. It's like they thought we would take the character's status as a new horror icon on faith. Maybe they're just hoping this will turn into a franchise they can milk for six or seven movies? If so, it's not a very good start.ReplyDelete
The trailers also tell you how two of the four characters are picked off.Delete
I think I still want to see it but I'll probably wait for the dvd. Did you not like Sinister? I thought that movie was creepy as shit.ReplyDelete
Sinister is creepy but I wanted to like it more than I did like it. I don't remember it too well except for Bagul (only saw it opening night)Delete
From all the Blumhouse productions I rated Sinister the highest by far. Most of their movies don´t work for me.Delete
I´m sick of found footage and sure will skip "The gallows", especially after watching "As above, so below" just recently, which had headache inducing camerawork.
Technically I'd say "Whiplash" is by far their best, but no one associates that film with them as it's non horror. They got lucky with that one but I think Blum is getting better and smarter. We shall see.Delete
Good call Chaybee. Whiplash is the best.Delete
Are we sure Whiplash isn't horror? I think I'd rather face most ghosts and ghouls than Dr. Fletcher.Delete
Well, "The normal heart" is also from Blumhouse in association with HBO, so I don´t mind their occasional quality flick. And that film is also depicting a very real kind of horror.Delete
I saw You're Next and Sinister in one night. I didn't connect with You're Next but Sinister really got to me. I've only seen them once. I really want to see both again and see if anything's changed. The found footage of the families were tough to watch and not a lot bothers me. I think the found footage thing gets to me because it seems real. If I'm watching a regular movie, I can distance myself from them. I still contend that Cannibal Holocaust is the most disturbing and that was technically the first one.ReplyDelete
I'm afraid to watch Cannibal Holocaust but I think I'll succumb during Scary Movie MonthDelete
You have to see it once. It is hard to watch but I think it's brilliant. I own it but I'm not sure I'll watch it again. I'm going to watch Cannibal Ferox this week. I don't know what my problem is.Delete
That ending...I liked it a lot. As you said it was bonkers but justified my hour and 15 minutes.ReplyDelete
Another movie set in a small town where people only know enough local history to get the story going. And no one even knows who is related to who in town.ReplyDelete
Or how many years they've been in public school..... Feh!
I read this review too late! I got dragged to the Gallows by my horror movie loving sister this past week. I was dreading it after seeing the trailer, was not looking forward to it at all. Is it weird to say I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't complete garbage? There were parts of the movie that I did actually like. I thought there were a few good twists, but most were predictable. The story was kind of interesting and I think it could have been a good horror movie...if it weren't for this stupid 'found footage' crap. I couldn't help but get distracted by the characters passing the camera around or their phones to make sure they kept filming even while being chased or facing death. I agree with you Patrick, there isReplyDelete
no authorship, mood, or style whatsoever. I still think it could have been much worse. Oh, what could have been if this were a classic style teen slasher flick? We'll never know and this will make enough money to fund The Gallows 2 and other crappy found footage horror films.Delete
Just saw that Adam Riske wrote this article...whoops, my bad, I originally saw that it was posted by Patrick so I thought he wrote it. Good review though Adam.ReplyDelete
Thanks Kersey! I enjoyed reading your comment.Delete