ByJamison Rabbitt, writer at
Host of Reel Reviews television @reelreviewstv as well as the podcasts Movie Mojo Monthly @mojomonthly & Real Films Podcast @realfilmsca

The genre of the "found footage" movie consistently produces some of the worst films of each year. Due to the ease of filming them, as well as low production costs, the market gets saturated with what amount to home movies billed as feature films. It is into this market that "The Gallows" slips in.

The film takes place during a high school production of the play "The Gallows", set 20 years after a horrific accident took the life of a cast member during the very same play. We are treated to the view through the shaky lens of student Ryan's camera. It seems to be his job to mock and belittle everything that goes on in this school, while never actually doing anything himself. His main target is Reese, who is attempting to perform as lead in the school play, mainly to gain the attention of the female lead, Pfeiffer. We are told, and shown, that Reese is a terrible actor and that he will be an embarrassment to the entire production should he perform. The plan is made to destroy the set the night before the show opens, thus putting a halt to it. Unfortunately, an unknown presence locks the would be saboteurs, as well as Pfeiffer and a cheerleader friend, inside the school after hours. Pretty scary stuff huh?

It is at this point that the film goes into overdrive on 'How stupid can we make these kids?' Of course, every cliche is used to gin up some scares. The shaky handy cam is used to great effect to show nothing as the gang runs through the bowels of the school like idiots. A spectral news broadcast on a hidden away television provides us with the most basic form of exposition, presumably to make the viewer care about anything that's going on. There's more terrible acting here than at a grade school rendition of Macbeth. This film truly feels as though it were filmed by a teen on their phone. And that gets to the core of why this genre in general, and this film in particular, suffers.

Due to early successes such as The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and even Paranormal Activity, a blueprint was laid out that anyone can make a film on the cheap and turn a tidy profit fairly easily. In a copycat medium, that has led to an influx of films trying to cash in by releasing what amounts to home movies of questionable quality billed as feature films. Any questions about acting ability, cinematography, or even audio quality can be brushed off as being 'authentic' to the feel of a home movie. Even the biggest questions in these films, "Why would someone be filming this? And how would they get that camera angle?" are often not even addressed. All of this amounts to laziness and only hurts the genre as a whole. And The Gallows does nothing to break out of that mold.

Unless you are the type to enjoy going over to a friend's house to watch wedding videos and look at vacation slides in which someone's finger is partially over the lens, skip this movie and demand better from the filmmakers.

1/10 stars


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