In “Theaters” Now: The Gallows

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I had plans to see The Gallows. Unfortunately, that meant delaying my write-up of Pontypool, but I was going to see a movie in a theater, so I was okay with that. Seeing a movie out is one of my all-time favorite experiences. I’m not breaking any new ground here, so I’ll keep this part short… it’s just something about the experience… no, the ritual (that’s a much better word)… yes, something about the ritual of going to the movies that I love. Even if I’m walking into a movie that I know is going to be horrible, I still get excited. I have no idea what was the first movie I ever saw in the theater… I suppose I could ask my parents, but that’s not really the point… what matters is the memory of the experience. There are two movie-going experiences that will always stick in my mind. The first was seeing Terminator 2: Judgement Day in the theater. I know I had seen plenty of movies in the theater before this (like the ill-fated trips to see Gremlins (which, ended in me getting a Gizmo stuffed animal that my parents thought would help reduce the trauma I experienced (it must have worked, because I slept with Gizmo in my bed for an embarrassingly long period of time)) or Critters (I’m pretty sure that one was my sisters idea/fault), but T2 was my first R-rated movie… somehow my father had convinced my mother that this was okay… so off 11 year-old Adam went… I really don’t remember much of the experience, other than being blown away. The other experience happened a few years earlier… specifically, my father took me to see Spaceballs. I was raised on Mel Brooks… and my father jumped at the chance to experience a new one with his son… it was amazing… I know the movie isn’t one of his best, or even all that good, but to this day I have a giant soft spot for it. It is one of classic father-son bonding moments that I’ll never forget.

So, why am I telling you these stories… honestly, it’s because I’m trying to remind myself of the joy of going to see movies, that The Gallows nearly wiped from my memory. That may seem harsh… okay, it doesn’t just seem harsh, it is harsh… but, and here’s the worst part, it’s deserved. This movie is bad… not bad in a fun way… not bad in a well-they-gave-it-a-shot-but-missed-the-mark way, not bad in a it-didn’t-speak-to-me-but-I’m-sure-there’s-an-audience-for-it way… no, just plain bad.

I don’t know where to begin… I also don’t know if I have the energy or desire to waste much more of my time on this god-awful-piece of garbage… so, instead, I’m just going to quickly list the major problems with this movie:

  • It’s a found footage film when it doesn’t need to be. This does not add anything to the experience and, in fact, it shines a light on many of the other flaws. It falls into nearly every single trap of found-footage horror films.
  • The entire premise is flawed. I don’t care how hard someone fought, there is no way a school board would approve putting on a revival of a play in which a student died during its original run. Also, who would think this was a good idea? Also, also, I have no idea what was actually supposed to happen in the original play… was the trap door not supposed to open (then why was it built), was the kid supposed to fall to the ground (then why was the noose tied to the gallows), was the execution supposed to be stopped (then, again I ask, why was the trap door built). I spent far too much time thinking about these things… though, the good news is that it provided a few minutes of distraction from this… thing…
  • There is no explanation for why the characters are carrying around cameras throughout the events of film. Okay, that’s not entirely fair… they do suggest (imply really) that the cameras are their only source of light. There are three problems with this. First, the kids are not carrying the cameras as one would if they were only being used as a flashlight… they are weirdly obsessed with making sure that the action is always in frame. Second, they ignore this premise several times in the film. In other words, there are scenes where there is no need for a flashlight and yet the characters are still filming. Finally, these are high school students we are talking about… they all have smartphones (which, they bring up at least every five minutes)… they would simply use the flashlight app. I feel like there was a movie executive somewhere saying “ahh, well… hell… you know… millennials and their phones”… and yet he doesn’t know…
  • The “narrator” (i.e. the one carry the main camera for most of the film) is extremely annoying. I mean stab-yourself-in-the-ear-with-a-pen-so-you-don’t-have-to-hear-his-snarky-comments annoying.
  • There is no slow build-up to the characters buying into the fact that something supernatural is happening. One (completely explainable) thing happens and suddenly all the characters simply accept that it’s a ghost.
  • The filmmakers’ (co-writers and co-directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing… shame…on… you… both…) take on high school seemed dated for the 1980s, let alone the 2014 setting of the film. Seriously, nerds haven’t dressed like that since 1978. Also, high school is a hundred times more terrifying than this film.
  • Finally, this movie has perhaps the cheapest jump-scare moment I’ve ever seen. This would might be forgivable is there was at least one legitimate scare in this film… there isn’t… so, it isn’t…

F**k this movie…


7 thoughts on “In “Theaters” Now: The Gallows

    1. It’s really bad… I’m not sure if it’s the worst horror movie I’ve every seen, but it’s definitely a contender. I’ll have to give that some thought… maybe I’ll do a “ten-worst” list at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It upsets me that your review of this horrible movie is actually inspiring others to go see it. But then again, that same thing is what led to us watching The Paperboy. There’s clearly something wrong with all of us.


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