A found footage movie that has the audacity to compare itself to Friday and Nightmare? How could I not see this immediately. Let’s talk The Gallows.
20 years after a horrific accident during a small town school play, students at the school resurrect the failed show in a misguided attempt to honor the anniversary of the tragedy – but soon discover that some things are better left alone.
I’ll admit, the first trailer for this was moody and intense. I came to find it was a full scene from the film, and one of the better ones at that. I had reasonably high hopes after that first trailer, and that maintained…right up until I saw the tv spot (link is above) that said “Freddy had his glove. Jason had his machete. Charlie has his noose.” That was the first red flag for me, and I know it’s not the fault of the film makers.
The reason that I hate that so much is simple : you can’t call yourself “the next” something. Freddy and Jason were never expected too be much of anything, and became icons by accident. That’s how icons are created, people form emotional connections to characters and that’s how it happens, you can’t force us to feel that way.
Alright, shoddy and weird marketing aside, let’s get to the actual movie. While I won’t say this movie is without value and is total garbage, I will defintiely not be sharing the views of any of the people who gave this movie 9/10 reviews. It’s funny to me to see this movie getting such high praise, when found-footage (yes, it’s found footage) movies get immediately written off by the general public.
I’m going to start with the positives, that seems like a nice thing to do right?
First off, the opening scene of this movie is great. It’s a pretty convincing tape of a school play, the parents filming are having a barely audible argument off camera, and the whole thing does feel quite genuine. The accidental hanging of the student is pretty grim, and you do get a pretty chilling opening as a result. I even forgive the weird moments of static that appear to make it creepier, almost. The scene would have been more effective without them, but hey, what can you do.
There are also a few really good, tense scenes in the movie, the one from the trailer is pretty effective, and the quiet moments in the school are pretty good for tension building.
With that being said, the movie is not good. Our main characters are pretty unlikable from the get go. The guy holding the camera, Ryan Shoos (Pretty Little Liars), is really just terrible. He spends most of the movie being the bro-iest bro from brosville and making fun of his best friend (?), Reese Mishler (nothing you’ve heard of), for getting the lead in a play. He spends so much time making fun of theater “geeks” and “nerds” (seriously) and puffing himself up, because he plays football and dates a cheerleader and s therefore superior.
Credit where credit is due, there are no homophobic epithets in the movie. At least, none that I heard. A few years ago, Ryan’s character would have absolutely been remarking on how “gay” everything is, but it is nice that that is strayed away from. However, being not COMPLETE garbage doesn’t make you a good person or this a good movie. It’s hard when 3 of your 4 characters are unlikable, and the other is kind of a non-presence.
The scares in the movie rely primarily on loud noises, I really wish that people would learn there is more to horror than just having someone scream in your face. You can feel all of the scares coming about 10 minutes away, and it’s kind of like having someone hiding behind a door, who you know is there, popping out and just YELLING in your face every few minutes.
The ending is rushed, and REALLY stupid, we find out (of course) that one of our quartet has a connection to the original play via their mother, and it’s just… dumb. We’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it all done better. There are good moments in the movie, but overall it’s another weak entry. It’s starting to feel like you can’t trust much from a major distributor like WB, and even New Line has started to let me down.
What a shame.