Found footage movies are ten-a-penny these days (or three for a tenner if you hit the sales). House of This, Haunting of That... you can’t move for the bloody things when you pop to your local supermarket to stock up on your five-a-day. Occasionally there’ll be a bit of a gem in amongst the lo-fi dross, but as a rule if you take a punt on a cheapo found footage title you pretty much deserve what you get and you’re usually going to get disappointed. The fact that The Gallows has escaped straight-to-DVD hell and made its way to your friendly neighbourhood multiplex is frankly astonishing and can only be attributed to the fact that it’s another conveyor belt offering from Blumhouse Productions, who have scored sit-up-and-take-notice hits with Sinister, Insidious and The Purge and their associated sequels. In a sane world, however, The Gallows would never have been gifted a cinematic release; in an even saner world it would never have seen the light of day at all. It’s soul-crushingly, unutterably terrible and it makes eighty-one minutes in the cinema feel like a month sitting in sheep-dip.
Clumsy and confusing – and entirely uninteresting – even by found footage standards, The Gallows really has very little going for it. Twenty years after an accidental High School hanging during a performance of a play called ‘The Gallows’, the school – with a spectacular lack of taste – mounts a new production (on an identical stage set, oddly). A bunch of dumb, irritating, highly unlikable teens who all have the same names as the actors playing them (including Ryan Shoos... hardly the life and sole of the party) concoct some inane scheme to destroy the play’s set so one of the kids, who doesn’t really want to appear in the play, can wriggle out of it without looking like a twat in front of his girlfriend. Naturally this bunch of halfwits break into the school at night and are quickly stalked by some sort of supernatural Hangman who has clearly watched too many cheap found footage horror films as he terrorises them by banging doors, creeping about and leaving the telly on. One of the kids has a camera, another one watches mobile phone footage and, inevitably, it all ends up as a horrible nasty muddle of running feet, shrieking, and long, shaky close-ups of walls which help to make a boring, predictable storyline even more incoherent and incalculably tedious. There are no scares and not a drop of blood is spilt.
The Gallows was made on a budget of just $100,000 and in all honesty it’s hard to see where the money was spent. It’s a shameful waste of time. If you’re thinking of swinging by to check out The Gallows, we really wooden recommend it. It’s seriously ropey.
THE GALLOWS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TRAVIS CLUFF, CHRIS LOFING / STARRING: REESE MISHLER, PFEIFER BROWN, RYAN SHOOS, CASSIDY GIFFORD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expecting Rating: 4 out of 10