The Gallows (Movie Review)

The Gallows (Movie Review)

Some stories are better told by nervous teens clustered around a campfire, and 2015 Horror film The Gallows would have benefited from such a treatment. The American Found-Footage movie begins on October 29, 1993 with home video of a tragedy at a Beatrice, Nebraska high school production of a period play called “The Gallows.” The audience watches helplessly as set equipment fails, resulting in accidental hanging of star Charlie Grimille.

creepy-trailer-for-the-high-school-set-horror-film-the-gallows
Still from The Gallows

Twenty years later, Beatrice High School student Ryan (Ryan Shoos: Mud 2005, As Night Comes 2014) documents pre-production of the drama class’s commemorative redo of “The Gallows,” produced in honor and remembrance of the tragedy. Ryan and his cheerleader friend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford: Entertainment Tonight TV seriesGod’s Not Dead 2014) make fun of fellow students and the theatre. Football player Reese (Reese Mishler: Medicine Man 2013, The Doors 2013) plays the lead part, the same part that ended Charlie Grimille’s life years earlier. He drops out of football, to his father’s intense dismay, to focus on his role. Acting brings him closer to a girl he is interested in, the female lead, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown: Big Time Rush TV series, Deep Inner Stillness 2015). Backstage shenanigans include Ryan’s harassment of student stage manager Price (Price Morgan: The Flip Side 2012) and interviews with cast members from the 1993 production. Charlie’s old girlfriend Alexis attends practices, explaining, “you never recover from something like that.” (Charlie’s death.) Others report haunted goings-on within the stage areas. Reese has difficulty remembering his lines, and Ryan concocts a plan. He, Cassidy, and Reese would sneak into the school and trash the set the night before the performance, thereby preventing it. Although reluctant, Reese agrees. Pfeifer interrupts their vandalism. The teens find themselves locked inside the theater, assailed by an unseen force intent on choking them. They stumble upon news footage concerning Charlie’s death and discover Reese’s father (Theo Burkhardt: Passenger Side 2009) was originally cast in the lead. Charlie, the understudy, stepped into the lead which led to his death. None of their phones work, and they are trapped, revisiting Charlie’s premature demise.

THE GALLOWS
Still from The Gallows

During their search for escape, Ryan climbs a ladder to access a vent. Frustrated, he taunts the invisible assailant, yelling, “Charlie,” which is said to be bad luck. An invisible force pushes him to the ground, and he breaks his leg. They become separated. Ryan disappears, but the remaining three find his phone. A video on it captured a figure dressed as the hangman from the play approach with a noose which ultimately proves Ryan’s demise. Reese says, “He wants me. He’s coming for me.” Cassidy panicked and separates. She checks the bruising on her neck, unaware of the hangman’s approach. Reese and Pfeifer pull the fire alarm in an attempt to attract help. The hangman chases the couple through the auditorium. Reese ignores the mysteriously open stage door to rescue Pfeifer who is choking on stage. A spotlight bathes him in glaring light, and Reese realizes the vengeful spirit wants the final scene of the play reenacted. He slips on the noose while Pfeifer recites her lines. The gallows drop. Reese hangs. Pfeifer joins hands with Charlie’s invisible spirit and bows. In the auditorium, the unseen Alexis Ross, Charlie’s old girlfriend, stands and applauds. Police visit Pfeifer and her mother, Alexis. Apparently, Pfeifer is Charlie’s 20-year-old daughter. They watch footage of the original play. An officer asks, “Charlie Grimille?” The women warn, “You really shouldn’t say that name.” A noose pulls his partner against the wall, and Charlie attacks.

THE GALLOWS
Still from The Gallows

Travis Cuff and Chris Lofing wrote and directed Blumhouse’s The Gallows with approximately $100,000, and it grossed $42 million after its July, 2015 release. Its eighty-one excruciating minutes earned an “R” rating because of adult language and some disturbing images. Although scenes dragged longer than they should and actual scares lacked, the acting is not terrible, and the idea behind the story is interesting. If the film were edited to about a forty-five minutes short, it would have been better served. Thus, CrypticRock gives The Gallows 1.5 out of 5 stars.

Blumhouse Productions
Blumhouse Productions

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Kerry Black
[email protected]

In addition to reviewing for CrypticRock, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA based Kerry E.B. Black publishes Fiction and writes for many journals including the online One Year of Letters Projects, as well as first reads for Postcard Poetry and Prose and staff writes for Halloween Forevermore.

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