Rental Review - The Gallows

The Gallows (2015), PG-13, 81 minutes - When I realized that this past Friday was the thirteenth, I sent my wife a text jokingly wishing her a Happy Friday the 13th.  She replied with 'scary movie night!', and with that I found myself picking up this movie from the nearest Redbox, continuing our annual October scary movie binge into November.

The Gallows is a low budget, found-footage horror flick that revolves around events taking place at Beatrice High School.  It begins with the recording of the school's 2003 presentation of a play called 'The Gallows', which ended in tragedy as a prop malfunction kills one of the performers, Charlie Grimille.  Jump to twenty years later, 2013, and the school is preparing a new performance of the play in honor of the anniversary of that tragic night.  The current presentation has been organized by theater teacher Mr. Schwendiman (co-writer/co-director Travis Cluff) and student Pfiefer Ross (Pfeifer Brown).  Inexplicably, jock (and not-so-drama-inclined) Reese Houser (Reese Mishler) has landed the male lead opposite Pfeifer.  His football teammate Ryan Shoos (Ryan Shoos) mock's Reese's inclusion in the play incessantly and advises him to bail on the production.  Reese refuses, saying that he couldn't let the other students down, especially Pfeifer.  That's when Ryan hatches a plan to destroy the set so that his boy Reese can get out of the play, but save face with Pfeifer at the same time.

There's a good bit of set up before the film gets remotely scary.  It utilizes Ryan's tendency to film everything to illustrate high school stereotypes: the drama geek (Pfeifer), the jock (Reese), and the jock/cheerleader couple (Ryan and Cassidy Spilker - played by Cassidy Gifford).  I felt as though this was a little weird.  The film goes out of its way to point out these stereotypes, but does so through the eyes of a character that - based on those stereotypes - would more than likely be the last person to tote a video camera along with him everywhere he goes.  Getting past that though, the film isn't terribly scary.  There are a couple of moments that will make you jump which take place after Reese, Ryan, and Cassidy break into the school at night to tear the set apart.  The power goes out and they begin to hear and see things.  As they become distracted from their planned shenanigans, they find Pfeifer is also at the school, preparing for the following night's show.  The group gets more and more spooked and as they continue searching for a way out (they have become locked in), they discover their connection to the events from twenty years earlier, which only adds to their anxiety.

The Gallows may not provide as many scary moments as one would hope, and at times it can be a bit predictable, but it also has a decent twist towards the end.  I don't know that it's good enough to warrant going out of your way to see the film but it was enough to make my wife and I feel as though we didn't completely waste an hour and twenty minutes of our lives.  In short, The Gallows isn't awful, but there's definitely better out there.  If you haven't seen it already, I wouldn't recommend seeking it out unless you just really love found-footage horror flicks.

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